Pino (Savory Beef Filling) is a
Chilean filling used primarily in empanadas
(turnovers) and pastel de choclo. It features
sliced (or coarsely chopped) onions cooked until sweet and juicy, and lean, high-quality
chopped (or ground) beef. The primary spices are cumin and paprika, and is made only
mildly picante with a tiny amount
of ají sauce or cayenne pepper.
In México, it would be called picadillo.
The addition of plump raisins, sections of hard-cooked eggs, and black olives completes
the pino recipe.
The onion-beef mixture is best prepared a day in advance to blend the flavors. This
recipe yields twice the pino required for the pastel de choclo recipe. For efficiency,
Chilean cooks make a double amount of pino, and use leftover for pastel. I have also used
leftover pino on a flat bread for a Chilean pizza.
Pino is always combined with hard-cooked eggs (sectioned or sliced), black olives, and
raisins in recipes in which it is used. I always soak the raisins in white wine to plump
them. If the pino is made ahead (and it usually is), you can add the raisins to the
mixture if desired.
Savory Beef Filling
*Makes about 2 quarts, or enough enough for 16 large, 24 medium, or 32 small empanadas*
5 or more large yellow onions, chopped
4 T butter
1½ lb (600g) chopped or ground lean beef
4 T oil or lard (do not use vegetable shortening)
Salt and pepper
2 T fresh ground cumin
1 T paprika
1 T aji chileno, Tabasco, or picante sauce
Put the butter and onions in a skillet or sauté pan, cover, and turn on the
heat to very low. Cook until the onion is very soft, no less than one hour.
When the onion is very soft, uncover the pan, add salt and liberal grindings
of pepper, and turn the heat up to high. Cook, stirring frequently, until
the onion becomes a pale nut brown. This method of cooking makes them milder
and sweeter, allowing you to use as many as you want without making the
mixture too strong.
While the onion is cooking, sauté the chopped beef in a separate pan with
the oil or lard until browned. Season with salt, pepper, ground cumin,
paprika, and picante sauce.
Add reserved onions to beef and combine. Allow to cool or chill overnight.