Aunt Josie’s Empanadas

3 large eggs, hard-boiled, cooled, and peeled
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet or mild paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound ground beef chuck
1 tablespoon tomato paste
⅓ cup raisins, softened in hot water, then drained
¼ cup chopped pimiento-stuffed or green olives
1 tablespoon lard (optional)
1 recipe Empanada Dough (or one package frozen empanada pastry disks, thawed)

Cut each egg in half lengthwise, then slice each half crosswise into 5 slices. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook onion in olive oil with ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic, spices and oregano and cook 1 minute more. Add beef and cook, breaking up lumps, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, raisins and olives and cook 2-3 minutes to bring the flavors together. Stir in the lard, if using. Taste for seasonings, and adjust if necessary. Spread on a plate or sheet pan to cool.

On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/8-inch or less. It should be thin but not to the point of ripping. With a round cutter (or overturned bowl) – 4-6 inches is ideal – cut out circles of dough. Gather and re-roll the scraps until you can no longer cut out additional circles.

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease it lightly.

To form an empanada, place 1-2 tablespoons filling on one side of a dough circle, leaving bare 1/2-inch around the edge – don’t overfill. Top with a slice of egg. Wet edges of dough lightly with water, then fold the dough over to form a half circle. Pinch the edges together, then crimp with a fork. Repeat process until all filling is used. Empanadas may now be frozen or baked right away.

Place the empanadas on the prepared baking sheet and chill for a few minutes. When ready to bake, beat the egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush the egg wash over each empanada. Prick each empanada on top twice with a fork. Bake 22-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 25-30 snack-sized (4-inch) or 15-18 meal-sized (6-inch) empanadas

Tips & Tricks: To freeze, place unbaked empanadas on a tray in the freezer until very firm. Remove from tray and seal in a plastic zip-top bag. No need to thaw them before baking  – just add 4-6 minutes to the baking time.