Mini Pastelitos (Mini Empanadas)
Bite-sized empanadillas, plus how to make the dough from scratch!
By: Melissa Toribio | @brieonthechisme
One of my earliest childhood memories I have is making pastelitos with my Tio Papilin when we first moved to Brooklyn from the Dominican Republic. We spent a lot of time together, so I had the lucky privilege of consuming a lot of his pastelitos and, as contested of a topic as it is, he used to put raisins in his beef pastelitos which I love to this day. I wholeheartedly believe that this is where my love of savory and sweets began.
Keep in mind that you are more than welcome to cut down your cooking and prep time for the pastelitos by purchasing frozen empanada dough, but the dough from scratch will always be my personal preference. Plus, it tastes better anyway!
You can make these pastelitos the star of any holiday, by making them the centerpiece of a charcuterie board. Perfect for entertaining around Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, Christmas, New Years, or any celebration. Coupled with my obsession with cheese, creating a Dominican pastelito charcuterie board was an easy concept that was made that much easier using Loisa's products!
On your board, you'll want to place the cheese pastelitos on one side with meat close by (dried genao, chorizo, pepperoni, peppered salami, etc), and alongside the beef pastelito place any unused cheese you cut up for the cheese pastelitos. Fill the rest of the board with whatever you'd like!
My recommendations are adding fruits like oranges, kiwis, starfruit, oranges, seedless grapes, and guava. Vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, mini peppers, and avocado. For sauces, I like mayo-ketchup, chimichurri, hot honey, and garlic confit. Lastly, for any additional cheeses I recommend brie, manchego, and cheddar.
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon of Loisa Sazón
- 1 teaspoon of Sal Marina
- 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- about 1/4th cup of room temperature water
- 1 lb of ground beef (I use 95% lean/ 5% fat)
- 2 tablespoons of Loisa Sofrito
- 1 tablespoon of Loisa Adobo
- 1/2 a tablespoon of Loisa Sazón
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons of water
- I combined Gouda, Munster, and Mozzarella, but you’re welcome to combine any pairing or use a single cheese of your preference!
- Additional supplies
- Rolling pin
- A small tray of water
- Frying pan
- 2 cups of frying oil
For the dough:
Ground beef filling:
For the dough:
- Combine all of the ingredients for the dough in a bowl until the butter is incorporated.
- Slowly begin to pour in about 1/2 of the water until the dough begins to stick. If working by hand, keep massaging the dough until everything is incorporated (10-15 minutes), and if using a mixer, 6-10 minutes should be enough. The dough should be combined, but if it crumbles at your touch, slowly add in more water.
- After 10 minutes or so, the dough should look and feel a bit dry but hold the form of a ball. Roll the dough into a ball, place into a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let rest for 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature.
For the cheese filling:
- While the dough is resting, you'll want to cut your cheese into small bite-size pieces.
For the beef filling:
- In a bowl combine beef, sofrito, sazón, adobo, oregano, and garlic powder together and mix until well combined.
- Heat up a skillet on medium and spray with a bit of oil. Once thoroughly heated, drop in seasoned meat and begin breaking apart, ensuring there are no large chunks of beef.
- Once cooked, drop in tomato paste and 3 tablespoons of water. Stir until the paste is dissolved, and keep cooking till all of the water has evaporated.
Making the pastelitos:
- After 20 minutes, cut it in half and roll each piece out.
- Flour the surface and the rolling pine. Side note: to me, the thickness of the pastelitos is a personal choice but just make sure it's not rolled out too thinly to the point of it being sheer.
- Cut out circles that measure 2.5 to 3 inches. Pro tip: any remaining pieces of dough should be rolled up, covered, and put aside to rest. After another 20 minutes, you will be able to roll that piece out to create an additional disk.
Begin to heat up the oil (I use avocado) on low in a frying pan. While the oil heats up, begin to scoop a tablespoon worth of meat or cheese into the middle of a pastelitos disk.
- Water the rim of another pastelitos disk (the binding agent that will prevent it from opening) and press the edges of it down against the one with meat or cheese. Lift the disks and continue pressing the edges together, and follow up by double sealing the pastelito with the edge of a fork.
Once you have assembled all the disks, count how many you will want and freeze the rest.