Margarita's Party Recipes

Halloween 2004

Margarita's Beef Empanadas

Empanadas - semi-circular pastries filled with savory and sweet fillings - are a staple of Latin America. They appear practically everywhere from Argentina to Mexico, though they differ considerably in the type of dough used and the most popular fillings. The empanada shells favored in Argentina are thin, light and flaky. Most cooks used commercially available brands rather than make them themselves, and the most popular brand, La Salteņa is available at Latin food stores in California or via mail-order.

Empanadas can either be baked or fried, but I've always preferred the former. They are very easy to make though it takes time to assemble them - it usually takes me 10 to 15 minutes per dozen. They can be filled with anything from plain ham and cheese to quince jam, though beef empanadas are particularly popular. The recipe below is my own. I started man years ago with the traditional filling, to which I added spices for extra flavor and spaghetti sauce for extra moisture. IMHO, they are the best empanadas around and they are always a hit at my parties. They've become my signature dish. The presence of raisins is a family tradition.

For this Halloween party I meant to decorate them with spiders but I run out of energy before I did.

Empanadas reheat well the next day (20 seconds per empanada on high in the microwave), though they lose some of the flakiness of the dough and they can become pretty soft. If you're planning to reheat them on the microwave, bake them until they are nice and golden so they'll remain firmer. You can also eat them cold.

Margarita's Beef Empanadas


  • 12 La Salteņa para horno empanada shells

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 lb ground beef
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice (optional)
  • 1/2 cup pasta sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup pimento-stuffed olives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sugar for sprinkling


    Sautee the chopped onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep skillet. When soft, add the garlic and sautee for a couple of minutes. Add the ground meat and brown. Add the spices and stir. Add the pasta sauce and the red wine, stir and cook until the meat is well cooked. Remove from heat and stir in the raisins and olives.

    Scoop the meat mixture (about a tablespoon worth) onto each shell. Fold the shell, forming a semi-circle. Close the empanada by passing a fork though its open edge, merging both sides of the shell.

    Brush the tops of the empanadas with the egg. Sprinkle sugar. Bake in oven at 400 F. until golden.

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