I’m convinced that the first empanadas were made by an enterprising Mexican cook who was faced with unexpected dinner guests and a pile of unappetizing leftovers with which to create a meal. You can stuff almost anything into an empanada shell, deep fry it, and create something that tastes better than the sum of its parts. That’s what I call cooking for real men! Unidentifiable morsels of meat soaked in chiles and sauce, wrapped in a pastry shell, and deep fried in hot grease – heavenly!!
Here’s what I came up with tonight at the spur of the moment. A sort of Hostess Pig Pie, if you will, created from the remnants of Alton Brown’s Grilled Pork Tenderloin (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/grilled-pork-tenderloin-recipe/index.html), a can of salsa, and 10 Goya Empanada Discs. Here are the specifics, though you can deviate to the max and still have a good meal:
Leftover Pork Empanadas
3/4 to 1 lb. leftover pork tenderloin (or pulled pork, or whatever’s handy)
1 7-3/4 oz. can El Pato Jalapeno Salsa (or about 1 cup of whatever you like)
1 pkg. Goya Empanada discs
Canola or other high temperature cooking oil
Shred and/or chop the pork. Pour on the salsa. Mix.
Use a serving spoon to deliver 1-1/2 to 2 Tbs. of the pork filling to the center of each empanada disc. Using your finger dipped in icewater, wet the outside edge of the disc where you’ll be crimping the edges together. Fold the empanada in half, join the two edges and crimp with a small fork.
In a large saucepan, place enough oil to submerge the empanadas, and heat to 360 degrees F. Use a meat thermometer, and try to keep the oil temperature between 325 and 375 at all times. Depending on the size of your pan, you may have to fry as few as two empanadas at a time. When they float to the top, turn once or twice to brown them evenly. If fully submerged, they will require about 2 minutes total cooking time to become golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve with your favorite condiments and a side dish of vegetables, or whatever you like.
The nice thing about empanadas is that the filling can be made from almost anything from savory to sweet, from meat to vegetables to fruit. They make great lunch entrees, dessert items, or appetizers. Have fun!!