Spiced Beef Empanadas with Lime Sour Cream

Do you ever get into a food rut? You know, when you keep finding new ways to dress up a chicken breast, and keep brainstorming new veggies and nuts to put in your couscous for a different flavor. We have just finished (or are finishing) months of great grilled meats and kebabs and are a bit too early for stews. So, as I put together the menu for last week, I was feeling some culinary restlessness. So, on the menu I put items I have never made before. And not “I have never put those spices on a pork loin before,” but “I have never made that type of food or attempted that culinary technique before.”

It is liberating to throw out what you know and venture into a land of unknown and savory promise. And with my motto being “we can always get take out” I truly figured I had nothing to lose. They all seemed like easy enough recipes, just different. It was exactly what I needed.

So, the first “new” meal was empanadas. It isn’t surprising that other countries have their version of a meat pie. I have made Kibbeh from Lebanon, we have pot pies, there are Russian meat pies, and the Spanish have empanadas. Then, adapted by Latin American countries, they shrunk it a bit and established the same technique.

I got this recipe out of Real Simple, thinking it couldn’t be overly difficult. Like any food where you have to mold each bite, it does take a bit of time, but it isn’t terribly complicated. And, with a store-bought pie crust, the effort is significantly decreased.

The spices in the meat are amazing, but I will note this – the recipe calls for 80/20 meat and I did find it to be a bit greasy. Next time I will be opting for a leaner choice. Also, my biscuit cutter was a bit small, so next time I will be purchasing one that is the size they recommend – providing a better meat to crust ratio. Might even jazz up the sauce a bit with some creme fraiche.

But all and all my culinary experiment was a success. Not only was dinner amazing, but I learned I could do something new, and I expanded my skill set. I suggest you all do the same!

SPICED BEEF EMPANADAS WITH LIME SOUR CREAM

Makes 24

1 tablespoon olive oil
small onion, chopped
1/2 pound ground beef (80 to 85 percent lean)
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
kosher salt and black pepper
2 store-bought refrigerated rolled piecrusts
large egg, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon lime zest

Heat oven to 375º F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the raisins, ketchup, cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Using a 2½-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles from the piecrusts. Divide the beef mixture among the circles, brush the edges with water, fold in half, and press with a fork to seal. Transfer to a baking sheet and brush with the egg. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Put the sour cream in a small bowl and sprinkle with the lime zest. Serve with the empanadas.

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