Fast, Low Calorie: Empandas for the Season

Every part of Latin America and the Caribbean, has there own version of a meat pie.

Mexico it is a Tamale- made with corn dough and meat filling steamed in corn husks.

The Caribbean it is pastel's- which is either, corn, cassava, or plantain dough filled with meat, steamed in banana leaves.

Through out Brazil and the rest of South America, there are the "empandas," which are meat pies filled in pastry dough, that are fried.

Many Latinos indulge in some form a meat pie, especially during the holiday season.  In the Mexican community, where making tamales is a 12- 24 hour process.

Fast forward to my version of the classic: Empanda

Ingredients:
1. 1-2lbs. lean white ground turkey meat.
2. 2 Tablespoons of Spanish Olives
3. 1/4 cup of currents or raisins
4. 1 diced bell pepper
5. 1 diced onion
6. Fresh Thyme and crushed Fresh Bay Leaf
7. 4 cloves of garlic minced
8. 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
9. 2Tablespoon of organic Tomato Sauce or 3 plum tomato's
10. Defrosted prepared Pie Dough--Pillsbury will work

Preparation:
1.Take all the vegetables, with the garlic and herbs, and saute them in 1 Tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2.When the vegetables are all cooked and transparent, then add the meat with another tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
3. Cook meat with veggies thoroughly, until the turkey meat is no longer pink, say NO to Salmonella!
4.  Then add the currents or raisins and the Spanish Olives ( Most recipes call for capers, but to cut down on the salt content, it is important to one salty ingredient.)
5.  Stir thoroughly and simmer on low heat for 10 min.
6. The last step is to use the 2 Tablespoons of Organic Tomato Sauce, for coloring, many meat pies have a reddish tinge to it because they used an annato pork lard seasoning, which is high in saturated fat.
7. The great thing about using turkey, instead of traditional ground pork and beef that is used, you don't have to drain the turkey meat for the fat content.
8. Now that the filling is cooling, you can roll out the pre-made pie dough, and depending on how many guests you are having, you can cut into triangles, or squares. You can make 6 large empandas, serve wine red wine and salad, or you can take a round cookie cutter and make cocktail size as an appetizer.
9. When you are rolling the dough, pre- heat your oven to 350 degrees, Use a no stick cookie sheet.
10. Now that the filling is cooled, begin to fill your pie dough, and seal it with a fork.
11. Place empandas on the cookie sheet and bake for 30 min. until golden brown, and dough, is thoroughly cooked.
12. Take out of oven and place on baking rack allow to cool serve at room temperature.

Although this recipe has 12 steps, the total prep time is 15 min., cooking the filling is 30 min., the actual prep for stuffing the empanda is 10 min. and baking time is 30 min.

So, from 12 hours to 2 hours, that is pretty fast and your relatives would not know the difference.

Cheers!

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