Lake Isle Press

Empanadas de Morocho con Picadillo

Made with arepa flour (instant white corn flour), this is a somewhat richer dough that will overpower mild fillings, so it’s best suited to picadillo and other savory, highly flavorful mixtures. Any leftover picadillo makes killer tacos.

Empanadas de Morocho con Picadillo


  • 1 cup Doñarepa brand white arepa flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil

  • 2 Tbsp +1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 Spanish onion, minced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (3 to 4 cloves)
  • 2 Tbsp Spanish smoked sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp whole cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2/3 cup Beef Stock
  • 2 large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and diced small
  • 6 to 8 large green olives, pitted and finely chopped
  • 2 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh oregano
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbsp dried currants
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 1/2 qts vegetable oil, for frying
  • Kosher salt

  • Ají Costeño, for serving


TO MAKE THE DOUGH, sift together the flours, salt, and sugar into a bowl. Add the hot water and oil and knead the mixture until it forms a soft, smooth dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set the dough aside to rest at room temperature for 1 hour before making the empanadas. (At this point the dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

TO MAKE THE PICADILLO FILLING, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the beef, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the meat is browned and the onion and garlic are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the paprika, cumin, cayenne, and stock and cook for 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and use a ladle to remove any excess fat. Stir in the eggs, olives, scallions, oregano, parsley, currants, and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool to room temperature. (This will allow some of the liquid to be absorbed and some to evaporate.)

TO ASSEMBLE THE EMPANADAS, divide the dough into a dozen 1-inch balls. Using a manual tortilla press, a rolling pin, or the heel of your hand, press each dough ball into a 6-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick. Mound 2 tablespoons of picadillo in the center of each dough round and fold over to form a half-moon. Use a dinner fork. or a plastic empanada press from a Latin market to crimp the outer edge.

TO COOK THE EMPANADAS, heat the oil to 350°F in a stockpot, using a candy or deep-fry thermometer to monitor the temperature. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Fry the empanadas in batches until golden brown and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes each, turning them once in the oil. Lift them out of the oil with a slotted spoon and set them on the baking sheet to drain. Season to taste with salt before serving with ají.

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