February 20, 2013

empanadas with picadillo filling

I recently got a request for the recipe for these empanadas I made for our New Year's Day celebration. For the filling, I cooked a traditional Filipino version of the picadillo. As I've mentioned many times before, Filipino cuisine has a strong Spanish influence. We often use spices like pimenton, paprika and ingredients like chorizos, tomato sauce, potatoes and red bell pepper for most of our everyday and special occasion food. We have a Filipino version of the Spanish tortilla de patatas or potato omelet and we grew up with Spanish-sounding specialties like morcon, caldereta, menudo, embutido, callos, cocido and many more. Canned Spanish sardines are as popular as canned tuna with many different brands available in grocery stores. Empanadas are just as popular with Filipinos and we have a few versions of them in different regions of the Philippines. This is just one of the traditional versions we like to cook at home.

with picadillo filling
empanadas shown above before and after baking

This filling may be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

 olive oil for sauteeing
1 pound lean ground beef
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onions, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2-3 medium potatoes, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup raisins (traditional but optional) 
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish (optional)
1/4 cup green peas (optional)
1 small can (about 1 cup) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1-2 teaspoons paprika
 salt and pepper to taste

Heat a skillet with about 1/4 cup olive oil. Cook the garlic and onions for about 5 minutes or until onions are starting to brown and caramelize. Add the chopped tomatoes and continue to cook. Add the ground beef and cook until liquid has evaporated and the beef is well browned. Add the potatoes, carrot, red bell pepper, raisins ans pickle relish. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer picadillo on low heat until vegetables are tender. Set aside to cool.


3 cups all purpose flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (or combination of Crisco and butter)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
a few tablespoons iced water

In a big mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in the cold butter pieces until evenly distributed. Add the beaten eggs and lightly mix with a fork. Add iced water a tablespoon at a time until mixture comes together. Press into a ball and gently knead on a floured board or surface. The dough will still have streaks of butter and will not be smooth. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin to about 1/8" thickness. Cut out the dough into 5-6" rounds. I like to use a plastic round dough cutter and crimper which works well but even without this gadget, it's easy to cut out the dough into circles. Spoon enough filling into the center, brush one side of the dough with beaten egg, fold over then seal with a fork. Arrange the empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with beaten egg then prick with a fork. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and evenly toasted.


  1. thank you for sharing this. just cooked filling yesterday and surprised that it reminded me of one of my mom's cooking. :) Nothing can beat those childhood foody memories. I skipped tomato paste as I didnt have it...filling was still zesty and juicy. Thank you again. i'm looking forward to trying your other recipes!

  2. Likewise, I have many food memories shared with family and friends. I'm so glad this made you think of your mother just as I do everytime I cook my own mom's recipes. Thanks for the inspiring comment :-)