Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Savory and Sweet Empanada Fillings (Picadillo and Apple)

America's Test Chicken consists of two separate chickens, each with her own take on this cooking thing. Check out Chicken One's related blog, A Travel for Taste where she shares travel stories and recipes collected whenever she ventures abroad. And give Chicken Two's new, also-related blog, Poop from the Coop a read. There you can find stories about her personal adventure re-experiencing the kitchen after many years away. Please join our Facebook group to share your own recipes, kitchen practices and know-how. We are also on Pinterest and Instagram.
The complete recipes appear at the end of this post.

From Chicken One:

Here's a recipe I've wanted to make for a long time. I spent a lot of years in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, which has a big Cuban population who provide us with excellently scrumptious Cuban food. Picadillo (pick-a-DEE-yo) is one such dish.

However, picadillo is also a traditional dish in Mexico, as well as other Latin American countries. In all cases, it's a ground-beef hash-type dish, made by adding tomatoes, onions, seasoning and other ingredients to browned ground beef.

The recipe I used is based on a family recipe I got from a Cuban woman in Tampa Bay plus the recipe in a cookbook from El Charro Cafe in Tucson, AZ, which serves Mexican fare. The El Charro cookbook states that picadillo is a traditional food to serve guests at weddings in Mexico, something I've never heard before.
In addition, the original El Charro recipe called for 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar, but I omitted it. I'm glad I did because it came out very sweet nevertheless. I will downplay the sweetness even more next time.

To make it less sweet, cut the amount of apples in half or use tart apples, and, if you're using canned tomatoes, make sure there's no added sugar.

The recipe below serves six to eight people.
A note: Use russet potatoes instead of the waxier white, gold or red potatoes. The softer, more open texture of a russet allows the flavors to permeate more completely than with other types. Cut even-sized cubes for even cooking and add a little vinegar to the potato cooking water to prevent overcooking and ending up with mashed potatoes.

There are endless variations to picadillo. As long as you have the meat and tomatoes, add whatever is at hand from the pantry or local farm. You can add any or all of the following to taste:
1 tablespoon capers
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 cup burgundy wine

From Chicken Two:
Manzana (Apple) Filling 
I found this recipe on line at Empinadas Ricas. Apparently there's a difference between Latin American and Spanish empanadas. Spanish are usually large and circular and cut up for consumption, whereas Latin American empanadas are small and semicircular. I used this filling with a sweet Latin American dough. 

Fresh lemon juice works best, but you can use bottled, too.
Here, the sugar, cinnamon and raisins are mixed together. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sugar but I reduced it to about 1/3 since the dough was sweet as well.
I only used about two tablespoons of filling on each rolled-out dough disk, but you can adjust if you want smaller or larger empanadas.

You can substitute other fruit, like pears, if you like but I have to tell you...this was very tasty! The dough recipe will be in our next post, so hang on to this! You won't be sorry.

Picadillo Recipe


1 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 cup water
2 pounds lean ground beef
1⁄4 cup garlic, pureed
1⁄2 medium white onion, chopped
2 1⁄2 cups potatoes, cooked and diced
2 celery ribs, chopped
1- 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced; or 2 cans diced tomatoes in sauce
1⁄4 cup raisins, soaked in hot water until plump
8 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1⁄2 cup ketchup
1⁄2 cup water
24 Spanish olives, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup apple, unpeeled and diced
¾ fresh ground black pepper
5 whole cloves, ground

  1. Heat a skillet and add the salt, water, and ground beef.
  2. Stir and separate the beef, and brown it quickly.
  3. Mix ketchup with water in equal proportions
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well
  5. Cook until flavors blend, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Manzana (Apple) Filling Recipe
8 medium sized apples like Granny Smith or Gold
1/2 cup raisins
juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1. Peel apples, decor and cut into small cubes
2. Mix apple cubes with lemon juice
3. Add sugar, cinnamon powder and raisins and mix well.

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