16 March 2009

It's been a long time. But I'm back. This is another one of those recipes that Sandra Lee ("Semi-Homemade Cooking" on FoodTV) would just love, although there is no whipped topping involved.

A friend of ours, Sharon, is married to a man who like to hunt. The past couple of years we have been the beneficiaries of his desire to kill. He has given us venison burgers, backstrap, steaks, and sausage. A few weeks ago we thawed some of the ground meat and had a BYOT (build your own taco) dinner party. After dinner, there was a lot of taco-seasoned ground veal left over, so I decided to semi-homemake [wink to Sandra] some empanadas, savory stuffed pastry that I learned to love at Alcorta in Córdoba, Argentina. (Marcelo, thanks for suggesting that we order those!) If you're interested, there is a good history of the empanada on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empanada.

In the interest of keeping it semi-homemade [wink], I used roll-out store-bought pie crust dough. My mother taught me how to make fully-homemade pie crust dough, but in the interest of keeping my semi-homemade [wink] theme, I went with the store-bought. I made some with Pillsbury brand and some with Kroger brand, and the only difference I could tell was the dollar in the price. Here's the low-down:

Easy Empanadas
(makes 16 pastries)

large non-stick skillet
2 parchment-lined half-sheet pans
small bowl
pastry brush
6-inch round pastry cutter (I used the lid of one of my metal canisters)
rolling pin

2 boxes (2 crusts each) roll-out pie dough at room temperature
1 pound ground meat
taco seasonings (I used an envelope or store-bought stuff)
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoons water or milk
1 cup sour cream
1 cup salsa or pico de gallo

Heat oven to 350F.
Brown and season the ground meat in the skillet. Drain if necessary and set aside to cool.
Toss the cooled meat mixture and the cheese together.
Beat together the egg and water or milk in the small bowl.
Unroll a pie crust onto a flour-dusted surface.
Fold it in half, then roll it out lengthwise. You should be able to cut 3 six-inch rounds. Wad the leftover dough into a ball and roll it into another 6-inch round.
Using your index finger, moisten the edge of each round with the egg wash. This makes it easier to seal.
Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the meat-cheese mixture onto the center of each round of dough being careful to stay within the egg-washed egdes.
Fold the dough rounds in half and press the edges together with your fingers. Use the fork tynes to seal the edges.
Place the pastries on the half-sheet pan.
Repeat with the remaining 3 pie crusts.
Use the pastry brush to lightly "paint" the top side of the pastries with the egg wash.
Bake at 350F until golden brown, about 30 minutes, turning pans around after 20 minutes.
Serve hot with sour cream and salsa or pico de gallo.

Add fried or poached eggs on the side for an excellent breakfast. The runny egg yolks are a great "dip" for the flaky empanadas.

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