I am finally finishing off the last of my Thanksgiving turkey. It was great for awhile but, frankly, I am ready to be done with it. We did the full leftovers dinner which polished off the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and macaroni and cheese. We also did the meal of turkey paninis which finished off most of the cranberry jelly. When I told the kids I was going to experiment with some creative recipes for using up the last of the turkey, their reaction was “That sounds scary.” You would think they would have a little more faith. But the fact is, they are rather picky about the taste of turkey in anything other than a panini. In other words, they really don’t like it when a recipe involving leftover turkey tastes like … turkey. Given that requirement, I knew whatever I came up with would have to involve cheese. Gooey, cheesy deliciousness hides many things. With some adobe chile for a kick of flavor, a little cumin because it is my current go to spice, and some lime juice and cilantro for brightness, the kids (and adults) happily gobbled these empanadas up. Using pre-made pie crust dough for the empanada shell makes this dish doable on a weeknight.
For assembling the empanadas, most recipes recommend placing the round of dough on a work surface, adding the filling and then folding the round in half to create a semi-circle. I find it easier to hold the round of dough in one hand and use my other hand to add the filling and pinch the dough together. If this is your first time making empanadas, try both techniques to see which one works better for you.
Now that the turkey is handled, let’s move on to Christmas. Have I got some great ideas for your holiday party … stay tuned.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onions
- 2 cups finely chopped roasted turkey
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce (use more if you want it spicier)
- 4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- ½ cup minced fresh cilantro
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 (14.1 ounces) packages refrigerated pie crusts (see Notes)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until softened. Add turkey, cumin, salt, and chipotle chile. Mix until warmed through. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Then stir in lime juice, cilantro and cheese.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Unroll 1 piecrust onto a cutting board or other work surface. Using a 4¾-inch cookie cutter, cut out three rounds. Gather scraps and re-roll dough 2 more times to get 2 additional rounds. Repeat procedure with remaining piecrusts, making 20 circles total.
- Working with one round of dough at a time, place 1-2 heaping tablespoons of filling in the center of the dough. Using your fingers, brush the edges of the dough with the beaten egg (this will help seal the empanada). Then pinch the opposite edges of the round together so they meet in the center. Gently pinch around the edges to create a semi-circle and seal the empanada closed, compacting the filling as you go. Lay the empanada on your work surface and firmly crimp the edges with a fork. Transfer the empanada to a prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining filling and rounds of dough. Lightly brush the tops of the empanadas with any leftover beaten egg.
- Bake the empanadas until golden brown, 14-16 minutes. Makes about 20 empanadas (if using a 4¾-inch cutter).
I used a 4¾-inch plate to cut out the rounds and could get five empanada disks per round of dough by gathering the scraps and re-rolling the dough twice.
If the dough gets too soft to work with, refrigerate it for a few minutes until firm again.
Recipe adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Menu Cookbook.