Turkey, Sweet Potato, and Cranberry Empanadas

Turkey, Sweet Potato, & Cranberry Empanadas

As someone who sometimes celebrates Thankgiving sans turkey [insert GASP here], I’m always looking for new and different ways to incorporate said bird into my recipes around this time of year.

Recently, while trying out different Filipino empanada recipes for a little project I’ve been working on, I started thinking about the raisins sometimes seen in Filipino, Spanish, and Mexican empanadas. (Spain and Mexico both have had quite the influence on Filipino cuisine via colonialism and the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade, and empanadas happen to be a tasty result of that Spanish/Mexican influence).

So, while considering raisins, the dominoes started to fall.

For a change of pace and a different kind of sweetness, I thought of using dried cranberries in place of the raisins. And with the dried cranberries, turkey soon came to mind–I’d use ground turkey instead of beef or pork. And finally, because sweet potatoes (AKA Kamote) are used quite often in Filipino cooking, they were another logical addition for me.

Suddenly, without intending to, I had stumbled upon a Thanksgiving-themed empanada. Eureka! It was kinda like the time I had stumbled upon a Groundhog Day-themed adobo. OK, so that probably never happened.

Nevertheless, these empanadas are like Thanksgiving squished into a conveniently parceled pie. With these handy portable turnovers, you can now take Thanksgiving anywhere! Take that, iPad!


Portable Thanksgiving.
Way better than the portability of an iPad.

With sweet potatoes, tangy cranberries, and Filipinized turkey seasoned with soy sauce, Filipino cane vinegar, garlic and ginger–all folded into a flaky buttery crust–I can almost* forget about “traditional” turkey with mashed sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce.

*That is, if a whole roasted pig is on the table.

Turkey, Sweet Potato, and Cranberry Empanadas
Makes 12 Empanadas

For the dough:

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup ice water

In a large bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Using a pastry cutter, or your fingers, mix the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes together and can form a large ball. You may not need to use all the water.

Form the dough into a thick disk and cover with plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

For the filling:

2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 pound ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Filipino vinegar, or cider vinegar
1/4 cup grated sweet potato
1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 egg beaten–for brushing over each empanada

Heat the oil in a large flat-bottomed wok or saute pan. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and cook until the onions soften and become transluscent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the ground turkey and black pepper and stir with a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the turkey is browned and almost cooked through. Pour in the soy sauce and vinegar, along with the sweet potato and cranberries and stir everything to combine. Continue cooking until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat, and allow meat mixture to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and spray a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough until it’s 1/8-inch thick. Cut out 4-inch diameter rounds using a cookie cutter or by tracing a knife around a ramekin. Gather up the scraps of dough, roll out again, and cut out more rounds until all the dough is used. You should be able to get 12 rounds from this dough.

Fill each round with about a tablespoon of the cooled turkey mixture, then fold the rounds over to form half-moon shapes. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Place the empanadas on the prepared baking sheet, then brush each one with the beaten egg. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Turkey, Sweet Potato, and Cranberry Empanadas

Thanksgiving Empanadas

For more of my other Thanksgiving-related posts:

  • Pat November 15, 2011, 5:53 pm

    Yum! what a fabulous idea. I love empanadas and this is a great take on a traditional recipe. Will have to give it a whirl when time permits :).

  • Randi November 15, 2011, 10:03 pm

    What? No “tanglad turkey”?! It goes well with crispy pork shoulder 😛

  • Bianca @ South Bay Rants n Raves November 16, 2011, 9:54 am

    I love this portable Thanksgiving! I hope my empanadas come out half as good! While I’m not totally crazy about turkey, I do remember being sad one year when we had a ham instead! I guess after having turkey so long, you miss it!

  • Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet November 16, 2011, 11:01 am

    What a great recipe!! Found you via Twitter and #Pullupachair.

  • Michelle November 16, 2011, 8:06 pm

    No disrespect to Mr. Gobble-Gobble but I’ll take Mr. Oink-Oink on the Thanksgiving table any day. More skin 😉
    Anyhow, such an awesome Fil-Am twist on the classic — love the addition of the cranberries and sweet potatoes.

  • culinaryneophyte November 16, 2011, 8:08 pm

    Love this idea!

  • Mia November 17, 2011, 6:23 pm

    Wow -soo glad I found this blog. My husband is Filipino so I try and make a Filipino dish atleast once a week. I think it’s especially important for our kids. Momma Sita has made a fourtune off of me -it’s time to try some new things! Thanks for a GREAT site!!!

  • Tracey@Tangled Noodle November 17, 2011, 8:05 pm

    Love it! I’ve never looked forward to wrestling a big-ass bird into the oven for hours on end, only to have something dry (that’s where the gravy comes in). You know what they say: a bird in the hand (i.e. turkey empanada) is worth 16-lbs in the oven. Or something like that.
    This is a fun and tasty Pinoy take on an American classic! 8-D

  • Philippines Lifestyle November 17, 2011, 9:39 pm

    Wow! It looks like the old style empanada but the taste sounds different to me.

  • Aileen@kitchenkwento November 19, 2011, 12:08 am

    Sarap! I can’t wait to make these. I’d take an empanada over an ipad any day.

  • nuvali restaurants November 22, 2011, 7:59 pm

    I want to try cooking empanada, With the recipe you’ve shared it would be possible now.

  • junemoon November 26, 2011, 4:25 pm

    Hello ~ I have chosen your blog to receive this award! If you have already received it, no big deal. Have a Great Day!http://junemoon.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/first-ever-super-duper-cool-blogging-award-2/

  • Joy November 30, 2011, 1:14 pm

    The empanadas look great.

  • gena December 6, 2011, 1:28 pm

    Love your blog!! Great recipes. I’m off to try your adobo recipe right now.

  • Gadget nyheder January 20, 2012, 4:10 pm

    Wow, this looks really good. I need to try it out some time this or next week!
    Thank you!

  • Nanette January 20, 2012, 8:27 pm

    I LOVE this idea. I remember an ex of mine who loved Filipino empanadas used to say that they were like Thanksgiving hot pockets, I guess he wasn’t alone! I’m sad I have to wait almost a year to show this recipe off.
    I also love your blog, it’s authentic but easy to relate to as a Fil-Am. I’m just starting a blog myself and have yours linked. =)

  • Restaurant Brugge February 22, 2012, 2:11 am

    nice post thanks 4 this post

  • DUI lawyers anchorage March 23, 2012, 5:02 pm

    Hmm. yummy recipe. I totally loved it. Its look delicious above picture.

  • hollywood life April 2, 2012, 7:22 pm

    Sarap naman nito! *and the drooling sets 😀

  • Navratan May 27, 2012, 3:40 am

    Great post!! very informative.
    Thank you very much for such a lovely and informative post.

  • potato recipes July 27, 2012, 2:36 am

    Your site is very informative and your articles are wonderful.


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