Empanadas de picadillo with mission fig mole

Empanadas de picadillo with mission fig mole

Chris Middleton

The Australians and English adore their meat pies. However, so do our Latin cousins but they call them empanadas, meaning stuffed bread or pastry. They are also the national dish of Argentina. With Mexican empanadas the term picadillo is often used to describe a flavour-packed meaty hash enriched with fruits, nuts and spices. Here lamb ribs are made into a delicious picadillo after being slow-cooked with dark beer, aromatic red mole, caramelised onions and fig.


Quantity Ingredient
1 quantity Empanada dough
1 egg, lightly beaten

Lamb filling

Quantity Ingredient
750g free-range lamb rib plate, excess fat trimmed
35g Latin spice rub
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
45g dried figs, finely chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped oregano leaves
100ml dark mexican beer or red ale
50ml sherry vinegar
50ml agave syrup or honey
375ml chicken stock
125ml Red mole
sea salt, to taste


Quantity Ingredient
150ml Dark beer gastrique
3 ripe figs, halved lengthways
125ml Red mole


  1. To prepare the filling, coat the lamb with the Latin spice rub. Place on a tray, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or, preferably, overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over medium– high heat. Seal the lamb on all sides, until richly coloured and most of the fat has rendered away. Transfer the lamb to a tray for 2 minutes then drain the excess fat from the dish.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and cook the onion and garlic until softened. Add the dried figs and oregano and cook for a further 2 minutes, or until soft. Pour in the beer, vinegar and agave and simmer, until reduced to a rich caramel. Add the stock and mole and stir to combine.
  5. Return the lamb to the dish, cover and bring to the boil. Place in the oven and braise for 1 hour, or until the meat is fork-tender. Remove the lamb from the dish, place on a tray and set aside to cool.
  6. Skim the excess fat off the braising liquid. Set over low heat and simmer, until reduced to a rich, thick coating consistency.
  7. Once the lamb has cooled, remove all the meat from the bone, discarding any unnecessary fat or sinew. Pull and shred the meat using 2 forks and combine with enough of the reduced braising liquid to moisten. Season with salt and set aside.
  8. Roll the rested empanada dough balls out, one at a time, between 2 pieces of baking paper, to make 5 mm thick discs, approximately 10–12 cm in diameter.
  9. Leave each dough disc on the baking paper and place a spoonful of filling in the centre. Brush the edge with egg wash and fold over to enclose, using the paper as a guide. Press around the edge of the filling to remove any air bubbles. Trim to make a curved edge and crimp to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  10. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  11. Arrange the empanadas on one of the prepared trays and brush with egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  12. To prepare the garnish, heat the dark beer gastrique in a medium frying pan over low heat. Place the figs in the gastrique, cut side up, and spoon over the liquid to coat. Transfer the figs to the remaining tray and bake in the oven for 5 minutes, or until caramelised.
  13. Gently heat the red mole in a small saucepan over low heat.
  14. To serve, spoon a little of the remaining reduced braising liquid onto serving plates, place the empanadas on top and garnish with a caramelised fig half and some red mole.

Paul’s tips

  • Store-bought puff pastry and a heavy seasoning of cumin and allspice can make this recipe simpler.

    For fast and perfectly shaped empanadas, special cutters are available online.

    For a flakier pastry, empanadas can be deep-fried briefly prior to baking. Simply preheat enough oil for deep-frying to 180°C. After resting the empanadas, fry them one at a time for 20–30 seconds, until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and bake for 5 minutes until golden brown and heated through. There is no need to brush empanadas with egg wash if pre-frying.
Paul Wilson
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