In a bowl, mix together the 2 ¼ cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt.
Add the ¼ cup chilled shortening pieces and mix into the flour mixture using fingers, can also use a pastry blender or two knifes. Using fingers, lightly mix in the ¾-1 cup warm water a little at a time until the mixtures forms into a ball and isn't sticky anymore.
Wrap dough ball in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
FOR THE PICADILLO FILLING:
Place the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and once oil is hot, add the ½ cup onion, ½ cup bell pepper and 2 whole cloves of garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes.
Add the 1 pound ground meat to the skillet, stir well and continue cooking until beef is browned and fully cooked, about another 10 minutes.**After browning meat, can drain any excess fat from the pan.
Add the ½-3/4 cup sliced olives, ½ cup tomato sauce, ¼ cup sherry, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, ½ teaspoon Tabasco, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, and ¼ teaspoon dried oregano. **Can also add the optional ½ cup raisins to the mixture now**Stir well so all ingredients are combined, cover pan and lower heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until mixture thickens.
Check seasonings and add salt, if needed. Set aside and let mixture cool before filling each empanada.
ASSEMBLING THE EMPANADAS:
Remove dough ball from refrigerator and separate into 10 equal sized balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each dough ball into a thin circle. Place a few tablespoons of the picadillo onto the center and fold half of the dough over, sealing the edges by pressing down with a fork or twisting the edges over to form a seal.
Heat 2-3 cups oil in a large frying pot or deep fryer to 365F/185C degrees. **See recipe notes on how to bake empanadas instead of frying**
Gently place 1-2 empanadas at a time in the hot oil (do not crowd) and cook until brown on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from oil and let drain on wire rack. Repeat with remaining empanadas.
Cooked empanadas can be frozen in a freezer proof bag or plastic container for up to 3 months. Let fully thaw before reheating in a 325F/163C oven for 5 minutes.
These empanadas can be successfully baked! TEA reader Elaine did it and she said they turned out great. Here are her instructions: Preheat oven to 375F/190C degrees. Place the empanadas on a non-stick baking sheet, brush the tops with a beaten egg, and bake for 25 minutes.