Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Cinco de Mayo - and empanadas with turkey filling

The closest Mr P. and I have come to Mexico was travelling on the trolley car from San Diego to the border at Tijuana. It was amazing looking up at the hilltops to see the U.S. border patrol officers with big rifles at the ready!

U.S.A. on the left; Mexico on the right (image public domain) 

Years ago when we lived down the Gold Coast, one of our fave restaurants was the Mexican Gardens, serving good old Tex-Mex food.  Real Mexican food was and is pretty hard to come by around here, but Spanish food seems to be right on the money these days.  There seems to be a bit of a love affair raging with things Mexican also, including Day of the Dead festivities in November.  I noticed that our local Mexican is celebrating Cinco de Mayo this week.  It just means 5th of May in Spanish, and commemorates a short-lived Mexican army victory over the French in May 1862. Many people get confused thinking it is the Mexican Day of Independence (as did I), but that comes along in September.  It seems that only the state of Puebla in Mexico (where the battle was won) celebrates it, along with a whole heap of folks in the USA.  Maybe you could call it a Tex-Mex celebration?   I was wondering what I could cook in honour of Cinco de Mayo, and I found a recipe for empanadas - those baked or fried little pastries filled with whatever you fancy really. This recipe calls for beef mince but as I only had turkey mince in the freezer, and as turkey is very popular in Mexico according to the president of the National Turkey Federation!, I grabbed that and went ahead. I really like cooking with turkey mince as it is lean, and cooks quickly, and tastes like a beefy chicken or a chicken-y beef.  I think it is perfect as an empanada filling!  I based my empanadas on a recipe here, but added a few little extras to give it a bit more oomph, like some chilli and Tabasco for that Mexican feel.



1 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion finely chopped (about a cup)
450g turkey mince (or beef)
1/2 tsp cummin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of ground cloves (I only had whole cloves so I bashed a couple up in a mortar and pestle)
pinch of sea salt
about 10-12 twists of black pepper
1/2 tsp Dutch cocoa
a few drops of Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp dried oregano
a pinch of dried chilli flakes
1/3 cup sultanas
3 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
15 pitted black olives, chopped coarsely
milk or melted butter to brush the tops


450g plain flour (3 cups)
100g chilled butter, diced
1 tsp sea salt
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
5 tbs chilled water (I had to use 8 tbs water as my flour was really dry)


Heat the oil in a large saucepan or frying pan
Add the onion and cook for a few minutes till it softens, stirring often
Throw in the mince and keep stirring for about 5 minutes till it is cooked through
Add the cummin, cinnamon, paprika, nutmeg and cloves and stir into the mix
Then add the salt, pepper, cocoa, Tabasco, oregano and chilli and stir in
Add the sultanas to the mince mixture
Stir it for a couple of minutes till well combined
Take it off the heat
Tip it into a bowl and place into the fridge for 30 minutes to cool while you make the pastry

Place flour, salt and butter into your food processor and whizz till it looks like fine breadcrumbs
Add the egg yolk and water and blitz again till it just starts to come together in clumps
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes till smooth
Cover it with cling wrap and place in fridge for 20 minutes to rest

Pre-heat the oven to 200C
Grab 2 baking trays and line with baking paper
Roll out the pastry to about 3 mm thick
Cut out rounds of 12 cm diameter (I used a small mixing bowl) - you will end up with 15 discs
Throw the chopped boiled eggs into the cooled mince mixture and stir them in gently
Add salt and pepper to taste
Place a heaped tablespoon of the mince onto the centre of each disc
Add some of the chopped olives to the top of each
Wet the edges of the discs with a little water
Fold the pastry over the top of the filling
Press the edges together, making sure they are pinched and crimped securely
Place them on the trays and put in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes
Brush the empanadas with melted butter or milk
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden

firstly, boil your eggs 

fry up the onions 

add the mince and spices

add the sultanas 

mince mixture cooled and ready for rolling

flour, salt and butter go into the food processor  

in goes the lightly beaten egg yolk

and the chilled water  

zapping in the processor 

a smooth dough after a little bit of kneading 

rolling out to 3mm thick 

cutting out 12 cm diameter discs

you should end up with 15 discs  

chopping up the boiled eggs

 eggs go into the mince mixture 

spooning the mince onto the discs

wetting the edges

pinching the edges together 

all ready for baking 

and baked! 

They really are moreish, as a snack with drinks or even as part of a main meal, perhaps with salad and guacamole.  Happy Cinco de Mayo folks!


  1. I love empanadas. Alas for me it is of the vegetarian kind.

    1. they are great with all kinds of fillings. vego or otherwise:)

  2. What a gorgeous recipe for Cinco de Mayo Sherry! Happy Cinco de Mayo to you and everyone else! :D

    1. Thanks Lorraine. We enjoyed these for dinner.

  3. Oh these look like they would be a perfect snack to have with an ice cold beer.

    1. hi nancy
      you are so right. they are delish with a drink:)

  4. I know you didn't take the photo but was a fabulous picture the one at the top is. Stark contrast indeed. Loved the inclusion or olive and eggs - very authentic and almost identical so some we enjoyed in Lima. cheers xx

    1. hi fiona
      i know- it is an amazing photo. so stark on the US side, so crowded on the Mexican one. it was kind of scary being there watching the border guards, and the security fellas going thru the boots of the cars passing in and out of Mexico. Yes i really loved the eggs and olives in the empanadas. gave it a great flavour.

  5. you've just inspired me to make some more vegan empanadas, so tasty!

  6. Miss your posts and gorgeous food!


I would love to hear from you. Please leave your comment and I will reply as soon as I can. If you have problems commenting, please try without your WordPress profile. You can try Anonymous (add your name in the text) or your Google account if you have one.