Turkey empanadas

After feasting on the traditional Thanksgiving dinner I quickly tire of turkey, dressing, gravy, etc. So what to do with all the leftovers? Tonight I made turkey empanadas and served them with brown rice and salad. Empanada is the somewhat generic term for South American meat-filled turnovers. At Pepe Delgados they call them molotes (an Oaxacan version) and serve chicken and vegetarian varieties on Mondays. I made a “Columbian” style fried empanada, with masa corn flour (and a smidgen of wheat flour) and filled them with chopped turkey, mozzarella cheese, and some homemade salsa verde (recipe below – very similar to Kate’s earlier post When life gives you green tomatoes). I served the empanadas/molotes with extra  salsa verde.

Dough (makes about 15 medium-sized empanadas)

  • 2 cups masa harina (do not use regular corn meal)
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour (this makes the dough less crumbly)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • about 2. 5 cups warm water

Mix all together and knead lightly. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap so that it doesn’t dry out as you make the empandas.

Filling

  • 1 cup finely chopped cooked turkey
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup green sauce (or mole sauce, sour cream and chipotle sauce, etc.)

Assembling the empanadas

Pinch off a piece of dough and make a large egg -sized ball. Between two pieces of plastic wrap roll out a 5″ diameter circle. (If you have a tortilla press – which I do – it makes this whole process much easier!). Peel the plastic wrap off one side, and place tablespoon of turkey filling in the center of the disk. Carefully fold the dough over to form a half-moon shape. Use a fork to press the semi-circle edges together. (OK, again, if you have a large potsticker/empanada/turnover press – which I do – this part also goes much quicker.)

Heat vegetable oil, about 1″ deep, in a skillet and fry until golden and crispy. Monitor the heat/temperature of your oil and don’t crowd your pan. The empanadas should be constantly sizzling, but not frying so quickly that the outside is brown before the cheese inside can melt. As you take them out, place the empanadas on a paper towel lined plate and keep warm (or eat immediately!).

Salsa verde

  • 3 cups diced green tomatoes (great way to use all those end-of-the-season tomaters)
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 large cloved garlic, minced
  • 2 to 4 hot peppers, diced (again, use what you’ve got)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup or more water
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice

Place everything except the cilantro and lime juice in a pan and simmer for about 30 minutes. Then puree in a blender with the cilantro and lime juice.  If I have leftover sauce I freeze it in ziplock baggies.

There are zillions of empanada recipes on the interweb, if you don’t have masa or would rather bake them.

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