A crispy dough filled with chunks of beef stew meat that is coated in a thick sauce for a juicy and beef flavored fried meat pie. These half moon shape pies are referred to as Pastelillos or Empanadillas in Puerto Rico.
The most common fillings are ground beef, cheese, guava and cheese and fish. My favorite pastelillo is the one filled with fish. The fish used for the filling is the trunk fish – known as pastelillos de Chapín. My mother always prepared the pastelillos with beef stew meat. Therefore, the meat filling for this recipe will consist of beef stew meat that is coated with a delicious thick sauce.
These half moon shape pies are known as “empanadas” in other Latin countries. However, an “empanada” in Puerto Rico is a cut of meat (mainly pork or beef) dipped in beaten eggs, coated with bread or cracker crumbs and then fried. Therefore, if you want to eat a fried meat pie in a half moon shape, ask for pastelillos or empanadillas in Puerto Rico.
Let’s Start Preparing the Meat Filling!
Trim the excess fat of 2 pounds of beef stew meat. Rinse meat and place in saucepan. Add ½ cup of water and cook for 10 minutes over low-medium heat.
Now let’s add the remaining ingredients: 1 teaspoon of salt (low sodium) and 3 chopped garlic cloves.
Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons tomato sauce, 3 tablespoons of sofrito and 3 to 5 sprigs of cilantro from my garden.
Our Sofrito is a special blend of herbs and vegetables sautéed in annatto oil and tomato sauce. Therefore, it is the basic condiment that gives the Puerto Rican cuisine its unique flavor and aroma. Today the puréed herbs and vegetables that are prepared in advance for future use is commonly referred to as “Sofrito.” If you do not want to make a large batch of sofrito, then here is an easy recipe on How to Make Sofrito for a Single Meal
The last ingredient is 3 teaspoons of my own special blend of seasoning. Stir all the ingredients until well blended.
You can purchase the seasoning envelopes with coriander and annatto at most supermarkets under different brand names. However, if you want to create your own special blend of seasoning, click on this link for the ingredients: Special Blend of Seasonings.
Bring the liquid to a boil for 2 minutes. Cover saucepan with a lid and cook over low-medium heat for 30 minutes or until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally.
If the meat mixture has too much liquid after 30 minutes of cooking, remove the lid and cook over medium heat to rapidly thicken the sauce.
After 10 minutes of cooking at medium heat, the sauce is thick and creamy. The meat mixture is done.
Let’s Start Preparing the Dough!
Mix 4 cups presifted flour, 1 teaspoon salt (low sodium) and 1 teaspoon baking soda in mixing bowl.
Add ⅓ cup of margarine made with olive oil to the flour mixture. With a dough blender, cut margarine thoroughly into flour until the flour mixture resembles coarse meal.
You can substitute the margarine with ⅓ cup of vegetable shortening if you so desire.
Make a well and gradually pour 1½ cups of chilled water.
Stir until a dough is formed.
Place dough onto a floured surface and shape dough into a ball with your hands.
Knead the dough for approximately 2 to 4 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball with your hands.
Divide the dough into 20 equal parts. You can use a dough cutter to divide the dough but I use my hands to divide the dough.
Once you divide the dough by hand, you shape them into 1½-inch balls, using a circular motion with the palm of your hands.
Place the balls of dough onto wax paper sprinkled lightly with flour.
We are Ready to Roll the Dough!
Lightly flour rolling pin and surface. Roll out each ball of dough into a 6-inch circle with a ⅛-inch thickness.
Place 2 tablespoons of meat mixture in the center of circle.
Fold the circle into half-moon shape and press down gently on the edges.
Run a saucer through the folded edges of dough and cut the edges to round them evenly. Place aside the cut dough.
The excess dough that is removed can be rolled again.
Press the edges with the tines of a fork dipped in water to seal. Place each pastelillo on wax paper lightly sprinkled with flour. Repeat this process for each ball of dough.
We Can Now Fry the Pastelillos!
Heat 1½ cups of oil in a 10-inch skillet to 365°F. Place the pastelillos in skillet and fry until golden brown on one side.
Turn the pastelillos to the other side to fry until golden brown.
Remove from skillet when the pastelillos are golden brown on both sides. Place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
Serve warm these delicious crispy meat pies filled with chunks of beef stew meat coated with a thick sauce accompanied with a cup of Puerto Rican coffee.
Click on the button below to Watch my YouTube Video on How to Prepare Pastelillos (Empanadillas)!
Recipe and Nutritional Facts!
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. Please refer to our Nutritional Facts Disclaimer for more informationPrint
A crispy dough filled with chunks of beef stew meat that is coated in a thick sauce for a juicy and beef flavored fried meat pie.
- 2 pounds beef stew, trimmed of excess fat, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt (low sodium)
- 2 seasoning envelopes with coriander and annatto or create your own special blend of seasoning.
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons sofrito
- 3 to 5 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (presifted)
- 1 teaspoon salt (low sodium)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ⅓ cup margarine made with olive oil or vegetable shortening
- 1½ cups chilled water
Oil for frying.
- Place beef stew meat in a saucepan. Pour water and cook for 10 minutes over low-medium heat.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Stir ingredients until well blended. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
- Cover saucepan with lid and cook over low-medium heat for 30 minutes or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. If meat mixture has too much liquid, remove lid and cook over medium heat to rapidly thicken the sauce.
- Mix the flour, salt and baking soda in mixing bowl.
- Add margarine or shortening. With a dough blender, cut the margarine thoroughly into flour.
- Make a well and gradually pour chilled water into flour mixture. Stir until dough is formed.
- Place dough onto floured surface and shape dough into a ball. Knead dough for 2 to 4 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
- Divide dough into 20 equal parts and shape them into 1½-inch balls with the palm of your hands.
- Lightly flour rolling pin and surface. Roll ball of dough into a 6-inch circle with a ⅛-inch thickness.
- Place 2 tablespoons of meat mixture in the center of circle. Fold circle in half-moon shape.
- Run a saucer through the folded edges of dough and cut the edges to round them evenly. Place aside cut dough.
- Press the edges with the tines of a fork dipped in water to seal. Place each meat pie on wax paper lightly sprinkled with flour. Repeat this process for each ball of dough.
- Heat oil in a skillet to 365°F. Fry meat pies and remove from skillet when both sides are golden brown. Serve warm.
In the food blogging post for pastelillos, click on link to obtain the list of ingredients to create your own special blend of seasoning.
- Category: Appetizers
- Cuisine: Puerto Rican