We got a deep fryer for our wedding. Though I *usually* try to prepare relatively healthy meals, I know the sublime tastes and textures a good dunk in dangerously hot oil can produce. After all, we live in the southern United States, where everything, and I mean everything, can and will be battered and fried. So, even though I’ve come across a number of baked empanada recipes, it seemed like a fun idea to try frying my own. We had a pound of ground venison already thawed in the fridge and other than the little bit of extra (but completely worth it) time needed to make the dough, these came together pretty easily. Not exactly last-minute fare, but simple enough for a weekend dinner and I’ve heard they freeze well. My batch made 12 empanadas, with quite a bit of filling left over. Next time I would be tempted to double the dough recipe and make a lot more.
- 1 oz onion, finely chopped
- 2 oz mild sweet pepper, such as banana, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons garlic clove, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- black ground pepper to taste
- 1 pound ground venison
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins, soaked for 15 minutes in hot water and minced
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 red beet, roasted and chopped
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (the kind that chipotle chiles are often packed in)
- 1 cup dark lager (I used Negra Modelo)
- 1 recipe for empanada dough (I used Epicurious’s)
- 1 gallon peanut oil
- deep fryer
Cook onion and peppers in olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic and spices and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in venison and cook, breaking up lumps with a fork, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
Add raisins, beet, tomatoes and beer, then cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced but mixture is still moist.
Preheat oven to 200°F with rack in middle.
Remove empanada dough from fridge and divide into 12 sections. While rolling out sections into dough rounds about 5 inches in diameter, keep the other sections refrigerated. Work quickly and use only as much flour as needed to prevent the dough from being impossible to work with. Fill each round with one heaping tablespoon of filling, then fold in half and crimp edges together to form a half moon. Transfer completed empanadas to baking sheet in fridge, to chill before frying.
Heat oil in fryer until it is 350 degrees. Fry empanadas, 2 or 3 at a time, turning once, until crisp and golden, 4 to 5 minutes per batch. Remove when golden brown and set on a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain.
Transfer to a shallow baking pan and keep warm in oven.