Beef Brisket Picadillo-Stuffed Empanadas

  • Serves

    makes about 2 dozen


Tender, braised beef brisket is combined with raisins, sherry, pine nuts, and spicy chile powder in the fragrant filling for these sugar-dusted, savory-sweet empanadas. This recipe first appeared in our December 2012 issue along with Georgia Freedman's story California Eternal.


  • 4 cups flour
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 12 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 12 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb. beef brisket
  • 5 cloves smashed
  • 2 medium carrots, halved crosswise
  • 2 large white onions, 1 quartered and 1 minced
  • 3 tbsp. chile powder
  • 1 12 tbsp. finely chopped oregano leaves
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 12 cup sliced pitted canned black olives
  • 12 cup dry sherry
  • 14 cup sugar
  • 14 cup pine nuts
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Canola oil, for frying


Step 1

Make the dough: Combine flour, butter, and salt in a large bowl, and using your fingers, rub butter into four until pea-size crumbles form. Add 1 1⁄2 cups warm water and stir until dough forms. Knead in the bowl until smooth, about 4 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Step 2

Meanwhile, heat 1⁄4 cup olive oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Season beef with salt and pepper, and add to pan; cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, carrots, quartered onion, and 6 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until beef is very tender, about 2 1⁄2 hours.

Step 3

Remove from heat, and let beef sit in saucepan until cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes. Transfer beef to a cutting board, and reserve 1 cup cooking liquid; discard remaining liquid and vegetables or reserve for another use. Shred meat into thin strands, and then finely chop; set aside.

Step 4

Wipe the saucepan dry, then heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat; add minced onion, and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Add chile powder, oregano, and cumin, and cook for 1 minute. Add reserved beef and cooking liquid along with raisins, olives, sherry, sugar, and pine nuts; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until raisins are plump and meat has absorbed most of the liquid, about 20 minutes; set aside to cool.

Step 5

Divide dough into 24 balls, and place on a work surface; using a small rolling pin or the heel of your hand, flatten each ball into a 5" disk, brush edges with water, and place 2 tbsp. filling in the center. Fold disks in half to form half-moons, and seal edges together using the tines of a fork. Refrigerate empanadas for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.

Step 6

Pour oil to a depth of 2" in a 6-qt. saucepan, and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Working in batches, fry empanadas until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain before serving.

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