Recipe for Great Grandma Silva's Chilean Empanadas


2 1/2 lb round steak or boneless rump
1 roast
1 garlic clove
1 onion stuck with 3 cloves
1 carrot, peeled, cut into
1 pieces
1/2 cup sherry
1 1/2 cup black raisins
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, minced
3 teaspoon oregano
3 teaspoon cumin seed, crushed
2 tablespoon ground chile (california or
1 new mexican chile
1 powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 cup sliced black olives, or 1/2
1 cup sliced stuffed green olives
1 grandma's favorite)
2 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling over
1 empanadas (optional)
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 tablespoon butter
3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup +1 tbsp water
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cup canola oil for frying


Cut meat into 6 pieces, place in a heavy pot and cover with cold water. Add garlic, whole onion and carrot. Simmer gently for 2 hours. If the meat cooks over high heat, it will toughen. When the meat is tender, turn off heat and let it cool in the broth until warm to the touch. Reserve broth.

Using a sharp knife, chop meat very finely. You also can use a food processor but don't overdo. Grandma always minced her meat in a small wooden bowl using a hand chopper with a curved blade, but my ethnicity goes only so far...

Warm the sherry in a small saucepan; add the raisins and let steep while you prep the other ingredients.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet; add the onion and saute until softened. Stir in the oregano and crushed cumin and saute for 1 minute. Stir in the chopped beef, ground chile and salt. Cook for 15 minutes, adding enough of the reserved broth to make the mixture glisten. It should not be soggy, just moist.

Remove picadillo from the heat, and stir in the plumped raisins, the almonds and olives. Taste, and add more salt, orega- no, cumin or chile powder, if desired. If the picadillo seems a bit drier than you like, add more broth or (better yet) some of the raisin sherry. Refrigerate overnight, or up to 3 days.

The pastry: Using a large fork or pastry blender, cut the shortening and butter into the flour until crumbly. Stir the salt into the water. Drizzle water slowly over the flour mixture, adding just enough to make a soft pliable dough. Knead gently a floured board for 1 minute. The dough should be smooth but not overworked. Break off a golf ball-size piece of dough (keeping the remaining dough covered with plastic wrap) and roll into a 6- inch circle. Place 1/2 cup picadillo on half of the circle. Fold over the top half, pinching over the edges; press with a fork to seal. It is important to seal the edges well so the filling doesn't leak out during frying.

Heat the canola oil in a 2-inch deep skillet. When the oil is hot enough it will ripple. Ease in 1 empanada and spoon hot oil over the surface. After 1 1/2 minutes, turn the empanada. Total cooking time for each empanada is about 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and drain on several thicknesses.of paper towel, blotting the surface with more paper towels. Sprinkle empanadas lightly with sugar while still warm.

If you plan to serve the empanadas later, cool, cover, and refrigerate. To reheat, place on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 10 minutes.

Makes about 12 very large empanadas, or 24 small turnovers.

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