Turkey Empanadas

I like meat pies, especially Cornish pasties (which are not so tempting to make when you realize that they are made with lard), so when I saw a recipe for Beef Empanadas in Cooks Illustrated I thought I'd give it a try.  These are probably very tasty when made with beef, but being in beef-avoidance mode, I made them with turkey.  By the way, this is not a quick recipe. It helps to spread the preparations out over two days.

Turkey Empanadas
Serves 6
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, May 2010

1 slice wheat bread, torn into pieces
2 Tblsp plus 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb ground turkey
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tblsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine (about 2 cups)
4 garlic cloves, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/3 cup raisins, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
4 tsp cider vinegar

3 cups (15 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (5 ounces) masa harina (which is cornmeal treated with lime, I think)
1 Tblsp sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
1/2 cup cold vodka
1/2 cup cold water
3 Tblsp olive oil (for baking empanadas)

To make the filling, pulse the bread and 2 tablespoons chicken broth in food processor until paste forms, about 5 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add the turkey, salt, and pepper and pulse until mixture is well combined (about six to eight 1-second pulses).

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, cayenne, and cloves; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the turkey mixture and cook until browned, about 7 minutes. Add remaining ½ cup chicken broth and simmer until mixture is moist but not wet, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl and cool 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro, eggs, raisins, olives, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour. (Filling can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

To make the dough, combine 1 cup flour, masa harina, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and process until homogeneous and dough resembles wet sand, about 10 seconds. Add remaining 2 cups flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into large bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. Using hands, mix dough until it forms tacky mass that sticks together. Divide dough in half, then divide each half into 6 equal pieces. Transfer dough pieces to plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Assembling the empanadas: Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions, place 1 baking sheet on each rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees. While baking sheets are preheating, remove dough from refrigerator. Roll each dough piece out on lightly floured work surface into 6-inch circle about ⅛ inch thick. Place about 1/3 cup filling in center of each dough round. Seal the edges of the dough with water. Crimp the edges with a fork. Trim any ragged edges with a knife.

Brush empanadas with oil on both sides. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper and place 6 empanadas on each baking sheet.  Bake until well browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through.

Cool empanadas on wire rack 10 minutes and serve.


  1. Hi! Great recipe! :) But empanadas are from Argentina, at least this kind. The ones in triagle shape are the ones from Turkey :)


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