Empanadillas are a Puerto Rican specialty - small savory meat pies, fried crispy and golden brown. They're delicious, but they can be time-consuming to make - especially for me because I am a clumsy moron when it comes to making pie crusts. So, I came up with a quick, easy, and delicious recipe for empanadillas. There are two secrets to my quick method:
- Ready-made empanada shells. Many brands are available, but one of the most common, even in non-ethnic markets, is Goya. Check the frozen foods department, in the section with other Hispanic foods.
- Lutenica, that delicious Eastern-Mediterranean combination of sweet and hot peppers and tomatoes.
Brown the meat with a bit of minced onion, add lutenica and cumin to spice things up, then put the mixture into the ready-made shells and fry a few minutes on each side until crispy golden brown. It's as easy and delicious as can be. The recipe below will make four empanadillas, but it's easily scaled up to make as many as you'd like.
2 tablespoons oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons lutenica, to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
4 empanada shells (thawed if frozen)
oil sufficient for shallow frying
In a medium skillet, cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of oil until soft and amber but not browned. Add beef and cumin, stirring as you brown the beef to coat everything with the cumin. When beef is brown, pour off excess fat if necessary, then stir in lutenica over low heat unil well-combined. Season to taste if necessary with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Divide the filling into four parts. Spoon each part into the center of an empanada shell, then fold the shell over and seal the edge by pressing with the tines of a fork. Fry in medium-hot oil a few minutes on each side until crisp and golden brown; serve hot.