Peruvian empanadas feature a crumbly, buttery crust that melts in your mouth. I’ve found that American frozen pie crust makes a great substitute. This is a recipe for a single giant empanada, which you can slice and serve as a meal. It’s much less tedious than cutting out circles of dough to make individual empanadas. You can make the filling up to 1 day in advance. —Carlos C. Olaechea
4 to 6
ground beef (80% lean)
onions, diced (any type of onion will do)
Place a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Set a large sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and bay leaf. Fry the bay leaf until it browns slightly.
Add the ground beef and brown, breaking apart any large clumps with a spoon or spatula. When browned, add the onions and a generous pinch of salt, and stir to combine. Fry until the onions begin to soften.
Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, and bouillon cube, if using. Stir to combine well, and continue cooking until the onions soften completely and look melted. By this point most of the liquid should have evaporated. If not, continue frying until the mixture is moist but not soupy. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and transfer beef filling to a bowl to cool. (Filling will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.)
When ready to assemble, unroll the pie crust and place it over the parchment-lined baking sheet. When the filling has cooled to room temperature, mound it on one side of the pie crust, leaving about 1 inch of crust around the edges.
Now carefully bring the other side of the pie crust over the beef filling so that it covers it completely. The edges of the crust should meet. If not, you can gently press the filling through the dough to disperse it more evenly, or unfold the dough and rearrange the filling with a spoon.
Now crimp the edges securely with the tines of a fork or pinch with your fingers. Make sure there are no gaps or cracks in the crust. Brush with the beaten egg and bake until the crust is cooked through and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Let cool for 10-15 minutes. Dust the giant empanada with powdered sugar, slice, and serve with lime wedges.
I was born in Peru to a Limeño father and a Texan mother. We moved to Miami when I was five, and I grew up in the "Kendall-suyo" neighborhood—often called the 5th province of the Inca Empire because of its large Peruvian population. I've been writing about food since I was 11 years old, and in 2016 I received a master's degree in Gastronomy from Boston University. A travel columnist at Food52, I'm currently based in Hollywood, Florida—another vibrant Peruvian community—where I am a writer, culinary tour guide, and consultant.