I've ordered empanadas from Mexican restaurants in the States, and they were small, individual-sized flaky pastries, filled with sweetened fruit. But the empanada we were asked to make is the Spanish version, and in Spain an empanada is made family-sized. The dough is more of a bread dough; in fact it reminded me of pizza dough. Often times the top of the empanada is decorated with shapes and cut-outs of dough. The filling is usually a meat or fish filling, although it's not unheard of to fill a Spanish empanada with fruit.
I chose to make a ground beef filled empanada. I made a filling similar to what would go into a shepherds (or cottage) pie. It started with a combination of finely diced veggies - carrots, onions and celery - a medley known as mirepoix in French cuisine.
I sauteed the vegetables until the onions were starting to caramelize, then added ground beef, which I cooked until it lost its pink color. I added a tablespoon of flour and cooked a little longer, then poured in a cup of beef stock and added seasonings, including a little nutmeg and a little rosemary, salt and pepper. After the liquid began to thicken (from the addition of the flour), I set the mixture aside and make the dough (recipe found HERE).
Once the dough had risen I rolled it out, put it into a 10" pie plate and filled it with the cooled meat filling. The dough was soft and easy to handle. Though in this picture it looks like pie dough, remember it is actually a yeasty bread dough.
I decorated the top with heart cut-outs and silts to let the steam escape, then brushed the top with a wash composed of one egg and a tablespoon of water.
Then into a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.
The dough turned out tender and tasty, and the meat filling complemented it well. I was surprised how nice and crisp the bottom crust stayed, and how well each wedge held its shape when it was cut from the empanada and placed on a plate. Dan and I both agreed that this taste of Spain, hot from the oven, was a winner.