Recipe for Cuban Beef Cigars. A fusion of Cuban empanada filling, prepared in the same manner as Moroccan meat cigars.
These are not to be confused with a Cuban sandwich rolled in an egg roll wrapper and deep fried. No pork, cheese, or mustard here!
Beef cigars are a spicy picadillo meat mixture, wrapped up in filo dough then fried or baked until crispy.
Cuban Beef Cigars are similar to empanadas or Pastelillos de Carne, a Puerto Rican meat pastry, except there is more meat than dough in this version.
Separate a filo sheet and brush with butter, olive oil, or spray with baking spray.
Place no more than 1 tablespoon of filling in near a narrow end of the dough.
Pinch meat mixture into a thin line, staying 1/2 inch from either end.
Roll the dough one time over the meat mixture, tuck in the sides, finish rolling up like a cigar.
Continue until you have as many cigars made as you would like.
There are 20 9X14-sheets per roll and 2 rolls in a 16-ounce box.
This recipe makes enough filling for 18 to 22 cigars depending on how much filling is put into each cigar.
To make in the oven, brush the tops and sides with melted butter and bake at 375 Degrees F until they are brown and crispy.
They can be made on the stovetop by frying.
Heat a shallow layer of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, add cigars.
As the Cuban meat cigars begin to brown, roll them over in the pan.
Continuing rolling them until they are golden brown on all sides.
I use the oven because it is less work and less mess to clean up.
There are about a million ways to make Cuban empanada filling.
My preferred filling is a Cuban picadillo that has pimento stuffed olives, raisins, and diced potatoes in it.
Using frozen, diced hash brown potatoes is an acceptable substitute.
I prefer the texture of the potatoes when I have parboiled a potato with the skin on.
Only boil it until you can stick a skewer through it with minimal resistance.
It should not be completely cooked through, it will finish cooking when it gets added to meat mixture.
The potato skin should slip right off after it has cooled.
When a parboiled potato is diced and added to other ingredients in any recipe it will hold its shape better than raw diced potatoes will.
It will actually hold together just like canned diced potatoes would.
We also use this technique when making potato soup.
Tomato based sofrito and Sazón with Coriander and Annatto are my other requirements.
Any of these components can be left out, however, if you leave too many parts out, it just becomes beef flavored with tomatoes, rolled up and fried.
If you are going to do that, you might as well just use an egg roll wrapper and invent your own name for whatever that dish turns out to be.
Maybe a goulash eggroll?
You can buy sofrito in a jar, or you can make your own.
It’s just tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, garlic, oregano, and cumin cooked in some olive oil. If using store-bought sofrito, omit the tomato paste, tomato sauce, onions, green peppers, and garlic. I would also start with less water, maybe half a cup.
It is easier to put more water in than it is to cook out too much water.
The filling for Cuban Beef Cigars can also be served hot over rice or it can be used as a filling for discos.
If serving over rice as picadillo, do not cook down until it is as thick as you would for a filling for Beef Cigars or Empanadas.
Suggested Dishes to Serve with Cuban Beef Cigars
Cuban Beef Cigars
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ green pepper finely diced
- 1 small onions finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 Packets Sazon Goya Corriander and Annatto
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 2 whole bay leaves
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ cup pimento stuffed green olives diced
- ½ cup raisins finely diced
- 1 potato parboiled whole cooled, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon juice from the olive jar
- 1 cup water
- 8 ounces frozen filo dough sheets one roll from a box of 2
- ½ cup butter melted
- Heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Cook green peppers and onions until they begin to wilt. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add ground beef and cook until brown.
- Add tomato paste. Tomato sauce, bay leaves, sazon, wine, and water.
- Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add potatoes, olives, and raisins, olive juice, and water.
- Simmer until most of the water has evaporated.
- Remove bay leaves.
- Set meat mixture aside to cool.
- Allow filo dough to thaw, following manufacturer directions.
- When meat filling has cooled, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or spraying with baking spray.
- Cut filo dough sheets in half to form 7-inch by 9-inch rectangles.
- Cover rectangles with damp paper towels.
- Lay one cut dough sheet onto a work surface and lightly brush with melted butter.
- Top with an additional dough sheet and brush with melted butter.
- Place 2 heaping tablespoons picadillo onto the short end of the dough, leaving 2 inches on all sides.
- Bring the short end closest to the filling over the top of the filling and roll once.
- Fold the sides of the dough over the filling and continue rolling into a cigar shape.
- Place onto a prepared baking sheet.
- Brush cigar with melted butter.
- Continue rolling cigars using the above steps.
- Place cigars into a preheated 375-degree oven and bake until brown and crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Alternatively, the cigars can be fried in a skillet with some oil, turning and rolling until golden brown.