Pork and Apple Pasty: A lighter, butterless baked empanada, filled with lean pork and apples, a sweet and savory filling that combines Christmas flavors.
This post is sponsored by Holland House®.
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‘Tis the season.
For this challenge our sponsor Holland House chose a theme that had me scratching my head and wondering how I was going to meet it: A light Thanksgiving dish with at least a hint of Dominican flavors. I have to say that it took me much longer to come up with something than it took me to actually prepare it: Apple and Pork Empanadas.
I think this dish works in many ways. First, I’ve got a lot of requests over the years for baked empanadas, for some reason it always stayed in the back of the queue. Second, this dough is made with oil, instead of butter, as it is traditionally made. I don’t mind butter, but some readers do.
The filling had me stumped. I couldn’t think of something that combined Dominican seasonal celebrations and an American tradition. Then I remembered. Every Dominican-American or Dominican in the USA I know tries to include their own traditions into a celebration that does not exist in the Dominican Republic. Turkey is served alongside moro de guandules con coco, empanadas, and ensalada rusa. Thanksgiving is like a preamble to Christmas with full on Dominican flavors. And what is missing here? Pork.
So yes, empanadas, lean pork, and apples (which is also part of the Dominican Christmas meal). It just had to work.
I am in love; I found that unlike deep-fried empanadas these do not get soggy and flat after a few minutes. Hours later (like 7 hours) I popped the last 8 of these in the oven, reheat them and served them to my family for dinner. They were nearly as good and firm as when they came out of the oven the first time.
On the downside, this is not the flaky, crumbly dough that results from deep frying the empanadas, but it is good in its own right and so much easier to work with, never mind that I hate deep frying with the fury of a thousand Santo Domingo drivers at peak hour. These were absolutely fun to make (I made some with flower cutouts for my kid) but for this season, holly and berries (my maple leaf cutter is too big).
Pork and Apple Pasty – Recipe & Video
For the filling
- 1/2 lb [0.23 kg] of boneless pork
- 1 1/4 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
- 1 1/4 teaspoon of pepper (or more, to taste)
- A pinch of paprika
- 1 cup of Holland House red wine vinegar
- 0.5 qt [1/2 lt] of water (may need more)
- 2 fuji apples , peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 tablespoon of flour
For the dough
- 1/3 cup of oil (corn, soy or peanut), divided
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 cup of milk
For the egg wash
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of milk
- 1 teaspoon of oil (corn, soy or peanut)
- Pre-heat oven to 450 °F [235 °C].
For the filling
- Season the pork with a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of pepper, and paprika. Place in a small pot and pour in vinegar and enough water to cover it.
- Cook over medium heat until the meat is very tender and flaky, adding more water during the process if it should need it.
- Once the meat is cooked through (20-25 mins, adding water as needed to maintain the same level), add in apples, and flour and let the remaining water evaporate almost entirely (do not let the meat get too dry!)
- Using two forks shred the pork. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
For the dough
- Use two tablespoons of oil to grease a baking tray.
- In a mixing bowl mix flour, salt and baking soda. Add 1/4 cup of oil and 1/4 cup of milk.
- Mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
- If the dough is too dry add milk and oil by the teaspoon (alternate milk and oil) until the dough is smooth but firm.
- Knead lightly until the dough is smooth and elastic. If the dough is too dry add more milk by the teaspoons. If the dough is too shaggy add more flour by the tablespoons.
- Wrap in plastic film and let it rest at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.
For the egg wash
- Mix egg, milk and oil and whisk until they are well-mixed.
- Remove dough from the film and divide the ball in halves, then again until you have 16 balls.
- Roll out the balls with a rolling pin until it is about 3/32″ thick (about 2 mm).
- Add a tablespoon of the filling in the center and fold over.
- Cut a half-disk (3.5″ diameter) with a cup or whatever you have. Remove the excess dough.
- Press the edges with a fork and place on the baking tray.
- Paint the pasties with the egg wash.
- Bake until they are golden brown (10 – 15 mins).
- Cool for a couple of minutes on a wire rack.