Sunday, February 6, 2011

Venison Empandas

For this year's Wild Game Feast, I made some venison empanadas. If you are looking for some game day food, then I would suggest these. In fact, I think you can make almost anything into an empanada and come out with some yummy food - isn't everything better when wrapped in pie dough?

The original recipe came from this site here. I made it as directed the first time but felt some changes were needed - just my preference - feel free to work off of my variation of this recipe too. Cooking is all about what YOU like to eat.

One recipe for pie dough (two 9 inch pie circles worth). I used this recipe here and really liked it for this dish. One, because it was super easy. Two, because of the protein from the egg, it had a stronger structure to the dough - good for when you need to fold the dough in half. It is not so fun to have your pie dough cracking! Of course, you can always buy refrigerated pie dough at your local grocery store and it will certainly save you time (but it will increase the over all cost of the dish). *Note that the above linked recipe will give you enough for one and a half need for the filling recipe (or just make a cream pie to go along with the meal) ;)

Venison Filling :

1 lb ground vension
1/4 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 Tablespoon paprika (I actually got a "Spanish" one from the bulk section of Hy-Vee super cheap)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup Spanish olives, chopped (you know, the green ones stuffed with pimentos?)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (I actually think it is okay if you omit this - try it and see)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium/high heat. Add the venison and brown well. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened. Add the chili powder and garlic powder cook to start waking up their flavors (about a minute). Add the olives, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes on low/medium heat.

Roll out your pie dough to a usual pie dough thickness. For the WGF, I cut 3 1/2 inch circles. Why? Because I had some tubberware that size - lol. Most recipes call for 5 inch circles, a little too big for sample size BUT the bigger you make them the faster the process will go. Now, for the smaller size that I made I suggest filling them like this (listen up because it took me some trial and error). Hold the pie dough round in your hand, slightly cup it so it looks like a "taco." Scoop in your filling - about a tablespoon's worth, then starting at one end, start pressing the edge together. If the filling starts coming out a little, just use a finger to press it back in and maybe adjust your filling amount for the next empanada.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Now, some prepping tips, you can make the pie dough in advance. You can make the filling at least a day in advance. In fact, I found it easier to use cooled filling - no melting of the pie dough! You can assemble the empandas a day in advance and then store covered in the refrigerator. Bake as previously noted. AND I haven't tried it but I do think you can make and then freeze these. I think allowing to thaw in a single layer in the fridge and then reheated in a 350 degree oven would be your best bet.


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