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Churrascos Beef And Olive Empanadas

1 lb. ground beef
2 large red onions, thinly sliced or coarsely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, julienned or coarsely chopped
4 bay leaves
3 T. beef base (see note)
1/2 C. chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
1/4 C. golden raisins
1 1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. salt
1 package discos de empanadas, thawed (see note)
peanut oil

For filling, cook beef, onions, bell peppers and bay leaves in medium saucepan over medium heat until beef is no longer pink and vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add beef base, olives, raisins, cumin and salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Remove from heat; drain completely in colander. Let cool.

For empanadas, fill each pastry round with heaping tablespoon beef mixture. Fold pastry over into half-moon shape and crimp edges together tightly.

Pour oil to depth of at least 2 inches in large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven; heat to 350F. Fry empanadas, several at a time, without crowding pan, until golden brown on each side, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Note: Beef base can be purchased at specialty stores. Or boil 1/3 cup beef broth until reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Discos de empanadas are pastry rounds available in Hispanic markets. Traditional pastry crust, cut into 5-inch rounds, may be substituted.

Makes 20 empanadas.

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