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Quesa-Birria Empanadas

  • Makes 20 empanadas
  • PREP: 20 minutes
  • TOTAL TIME: 4-5 hours

A hearty snack or easy dinner, this crowd-pleasing recipe is inspired by Chica restaurant chef Lorena Garcia’s version that she prepared with Chrissy at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.

If there’s a universal truth in life, it’s that pockets make everything better, whether we’re talking about your favorite dresses or the best food. What’s this theory based on? Empanadas. These delicious pockets of dough are packed with flavor that comes from your choice of seasoned meats, veggies, and cheese, obviously. In this case, we took inspiration from the slow-braised brisket birria version chef Lorena Garcia serves at her restaurant Chica in Aspen, CO. They’re fried to golden perfection and best eaten by hand, alongside a broth-like dipping sauce.

  • 2.5

    lb beef brisket 

  • 2

    tablespoons ancho chile powder 

  • 32

    ounces beef stock 

  • 1

    cinnamon stick 

  • 2

    bay leaves 

  • 6


  • ¼

    cup San Marzano tomatoes 

  • 1

    tablespoon toasted coriander 

  • 1

    tablespoon black peppercorns 

  • 2

    teaspoons toasted cumin seed 

  • 2

    tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped 

  • ½

    teaspoon tomato paste 

  • 4-5

    medium garlic cloves, smashed

  • ¼

    of a medium to large onion, sliced 

  • 1

    tablespoon salt 

  • 1

    teaspoon black pepper 

  • ¼

    cup canola oil plus 6-8 cups for frying 

  • 20

    empanada wrappers (labeled for frying)

  • 15

    ounces Oaxaca or Monterey Jack cheese, grated 

  • 2

    scallions, thinly sliced 

  • 1

    tablespoon cilantro, chopped

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