In Spanish-speaking countries, folded-over meat pies are generally called empanadas — which simply means something in a crust — and can also refer to sweet turnovers. Folded-over meat pies, cousins to British-style pasties, are found all over Mexico through Central America and the Caribbean, under various names. (For example, they're called patties in Jamaica.) The slightly spicy filling used here, which is studded with olives and nuts, is typical of Mexico.


  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3/4 pound ground beef or shredded cooked beef
  • 1 1/2 cups minced onion (1 large)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 serrano or jalapeño chiles, seeded and minced
  • 10 blanched almonds or 2 tablespoons blanched slivered almonds
  • 4 pitted green olives
  • Heaping tablespoon raisins
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 tablespoon cold vegetable shortening, lard, or rendered chicken fat (see Note, page 28)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • About 3 tablespoons cold water
Time estimates

Prep time: 25 min, plus 30 mins to chill  

Cook time: 35 min  

Total time: 1 hr  

Cooking directions

  1. To make the filling, cook the meat in a skillet over low heat until the raw color is gone and the meat begins to brown. (If using cooked meat,cook the rest of the ingredients first in a little oil and add the meat at the end.) Push the meat to one side of the skillet and swab out any excess fat with a paper towel. Add the onion, garlic, and chile and cook until the onion is soft. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the almonds, olives, and raisins. Stir into the cooked meat mixture and season to taste. Let cool.
  2. To make the dough, combine the flour, salt, and fats in a bowl and cut the fat into small pieces. Rub the mixture between your fingertips, breaking up the lumps of fat into small flakes. Stir in the egg (leave a tiny bit behind in the bowl for brushing), then add cold water a tablespoon at a time, stirring with the fingers of one hand, until the dough just comes together. Shape into a ball, wrap tightly, and refrigerate 30 minutes to overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Divide the dough into 6 even pieces (a scale is handy for this). On a lightly floured surface, roll a piece of dough out to a 7-inch circle, and spoon a scant 1/4 cup of the filling on one side. Fold the dough over, press the edges together, then fold about
  4. 1/2 inch of the edge up and inward. Crimp the edges with the times of a fork and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Add the milk to the bowl with the remaining egg, brush the tops of the pies with a little of the mixture, and make a couple of slits in the tops. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.


Makes 8

Which beer should I drink with this?

Because these are more rich than spicy, they go well with pale ale, porter, or stout.

The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook 

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From "The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook," Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.

Photo: Deborah Munford/Citizen Image

Empanadas (Meat-Filled Turnovers)
In Spanish-speaking countries, folded over meat pies are generally called empanadas, which simply means something in a crust and can also refer to sweet turnove