Recipe: Beef picadillo and queso empanadas

courtesy of Cuba Libre

Beef Picadillo Empanadas

Ground beef, Manzanilla olives and raisins

Created by Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar's Concept Chef Guillermo Pernot


  • 1.25 lbs ground beef (coarse ground)
  • 2 ounces red bell peppers, small dice
  • 2 ounces green bell peppers, small dice
  • 3 ounces onions, small dice
  • 1 oz. raisins
  • 1 ea. Bay leaf
  • 0.25 oz Minced garlic
  • 0.5 oz Recaito (available in stores, such as Goya brand)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 0.5 cup canned puree tomatoes
  • 1 oz tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp blend oil
  • To taste salt (Kosher)
  • 1 fl. oz red wine
  • 20 empanada discs
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 40 Manzanilla olives, diced


  1. Heat the oil in a large rondeau on medium high heat
  2. Saute the ground beef and bay leaf in the olive oil
  3. When browned, remove meat and drain off some of the fat, leaving enough fat to cook the peppers, etc. in the next step
  4. Saute the red peppers, green peppers, garlic and onions in remaining fat
  5. Add Recaito, raisins, cumin, paprika, and oregano. Cook for a while longer.
  6. Return meat to the rondeau and stir well
  7. Add red wine, tomato puree, and season to taste with salt and pepper
  8. Add two diced Manzanilla olives per empanada
  9. Add tomato paste and stir well
  10. Simmer for 20 minutes
  11. Transfer to hotel pans and cool quickly
  12. Once cooled, place meat in center of empanada discs and fold disc in half, pinching edges.
  13. Combine eggs and water to form an egg wash, brush on empanadas.
  14. Cook by baking or frying


  • The meat should be completely broken up with no clumps.
  • The mixture should be moist but not drowning in liquid.

Queso Empanada

Mozzarella, Tetilla, Monterey Jack cheese and sweet roasted onions

Created by Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar's Concept Chef Guillermo Pernot


  • 20 empanada discs
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ------------------------------------------------
  • 1½ lbs onions, ¼ inch dice
  • 1½ ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • -------------------------------------------------
  • 5 ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 3¾ ounces tetilla cheese, shredded
  • 3¾ ounces Monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • ⅓ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt


In a heavy pan, sweat onions very slowly with butter and salt. Allow to cook until very soft and just beginning to turn brown. You do not want any color. Once very soft, remove from the heat, add vinegar and allow the entire mixture to cool.

Toss the cooled onions with the three cheeses, nutmeg and salt. Portion into 1½ ounce balls. Place the ball of filling in the center of the empanada disc, fold in half and crimp edges with a fork. Combine eggs and water and brush empanada disc with egg wash. Cook empanadas either by baking or frying.


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