Small pies meant to be eaten with the fingers appear in many world cuisines with an endless variety of fillings. They can be sweet or savory and can be baked or fried. The fillings can include meat, fish, seafood, cheese, beans, potatoes or as in the Southern United States, fruit. They are served any time of the day and small ones are perfect with cocktails or served as an appetizer. They can be made ahead and frozen, served hot or at room temperature and travel well for outdoor entertaining.
These easy empanadas are very nice for breakfast or lunch but also go well with beer. Because they have only a few ingredients it’s important to use the very best quality of sausage you can find. The pastry for these is the same basic pie crust dough I use for most of my standard fruit pies and quiches.
¾ lb bulk sausage meat (any type)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening, chilled
1/2 cup ice water
1 egg beaten
Sesame, caraway, poppy seeds, or coarse black pepper for garnish
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. With a large fork, cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle in water a few teaspoons at a time. Depending on your weather you may need more or less water. Fluff the flour with a fork while adding the water until mixture forms a ball. Do not over mix. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
Being careful to not overwork the dough, shape into balls the desired size. With a rolling pin, gently roll the dough into a circle. Place a spoonful of uncooked sausage meat off center and fold over. Crimp the edges with the tines of a fork and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Lightly brush with the beaten eggs and sprinkle on a few seeds, if desired.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree over until nicely browned and sausage is cooked through. Serve hot or at rood temperature. Depending on the size desired recipe makes about 12 empanadas.