This week, Andrew’s family was asking me about our family Christmas traditions. As I was explaining them, I happily realized that they all revolve around food. So much food, in fact, that I decided to divide my Christmas post up into two posts.
We only had seven people at my parent’s house for the holidays, but over these three days we made and ate enough food to feed those seven people for about a week. Honestly, not an exaggeration. Side note: I say this with zero complaints.
My second favorite food tradition of the Cummins Christmas Feast (you’ll get the first favorite in part 2) is empanadas. These flakey crusts filled with seasoned ground beef, raisins, and olives have been my favorite food since I was a kid. This confession was often met with confusion in elementary school when the ice breaker games consisted of your name and favorite food.
I know what you’re thinking. Ground beef, raisins, and olives? It’s bizarre, but I promise the flavors will come together in perfect harmony with each bite.
Did I mention there are also hardboiled eggs? Have I lost you yet?
Empanadas are definitely not a health food, so make sure to try this recipe before you start your post-holiday diet. But they are a great meal to make with friends. Many of my Christmas memories center around my parent’s kitchen table, stuffing and folding empanadas that often had to be redone by the adults.
Ready to try it out? Gather some friends and a bottle of wine for a fun day of cooking!
My Mom’s Empanadas
- 1 lb. ground beef, no more than 80% lean
- 1 package Empanada skins (we use Goya brand’s Tapas para Empanada. You can usually find them in Hispanic sections of the grocery store)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 bunch of green onions, green part only, sliced
- 1 hardboiled egg, chopped
- 2 tbls. raisins
- 10 manzanilla olives
- 2 tsp. cumin, or more to taste
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1/2 tbls. olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 raw egg, beaten with water to make an egg wash
- Heat 1/2 tbls. olive oil in a large pot. Sauté the yellow onion and green onion over medium heat until softened, 3 minutes.
- Add the ground beef and spices to the pot. Continue to cook over medium heat until ground beef is cooked through. Do not drain. The sauce coming from the ground beef should have a reddish tint. If you find your sauce does not, add more paprika 1/8 tsp. at a time.
- Remove the pot from heat. Add the raisins and hard boiled egg and stir until well combined. Taste the stuffing. Add more cumin, salt, or pepper as necessary.
- Allow the stuffing to cool in the refrigerator until the fat has solidified. This process will take several hours and is essential in the folding process. If your empanada skins were frozen, allow them to come to room temperature.
- Once your empanada stuffing is cool, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Set up your folding station. Lay out a cutting board on which to fold your empanadas, a cookie sheet on which to place your completed empanadas, olives, and a small bowl of water.
- Lay out three empanada skins on your cutting board. Spoon in about 3 tablespoons worth of stuffing and top with one olive.
- Use your finger to brush water along one edge of the empanada skin. Take each side and bring together over the stuffing. Press the edges together and fold 1/2 inch sections over each other. There are many ways to fold empanadas, the method described above is just the one we most often use. Watch this helpful video for another common method of folding.
- Place your completed empanadas on a cookie sheet, spaced so they are not touching.
- Brush each empanada in a thin layer of egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!