Turkey Empanadillas (Empanadillas de Pavo)

The day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of leftover turkey dishes. From pot pies and turkey sandwiches to turkey soup – by the end of this weekend we will have had our fill of roasted turkey for the year.
This recipe is my offering to this post-Thanksgiving tradition of leftover turkey preparation: turkey empanadillas (empanadillas de pavo). It’s a savory Latin dish that gives turkey leftovers a Puerto Rican twist. Turkey empanadillas are half moon pastry pockets that are stuffed with a savory filling of shredded turkey, olives, raisins and cilantro. Unlike their fried cousins traditionally sold in cuchifrito stands around the island, these pastry pockets are baked.
Making the empanadilla pastry from scratch yields the best results, but if you are as tired as I am after days of preparation and cooking for the Thanksgiving feast, then use frozen empanadilla pastry disks from your local grocer.
If you like this empanadilla recipe, you may also like baked beef empanadillas.
Turkey Empanadillas (Empanadillas de Pavo)
2 cups cooked turkey meat, shredded
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup turkey broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 packet Sazón annatto seasoning
1/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
12 empanadilla pastry disks, thawed (pre-made or homemade)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a medium heavy skillet over medium heat, heat the oil, then add the onion and cook until they begin getting glassy. Add the bell pepper and garlic and cook until fragrant. Do not allow them to brown.
3. Add the cumin and allspice and stir until well incorporated. Add the tomato sauce, broth, annatto seasoning and raisins and bring to a simmer. Add the shredded turkey and continue cooking until all the liquids have been incorporated into the mixture. Turn the heat off and add the olives, cilantro and season to taste. Set aside to cool.
4. Prepare your work surface to assemble the empanadillas by having the following handy: empanadilla pastry disks, baking sheet, fork, bowl of water, and the cooled filling.
5. Place a disk on your work surface and add 2 to 3 tablespoons filling. Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle. Crimp the edge with a fork, turn over and crimp the edges with a fork again. Set the empanadilla in the cookie sheet and repeat.
6. Brush the empanadillas with oil and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
Makes 12 empanadillas.

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