This Latin America delicacy lends itself perfectly to game meat. This traditional meat pastry is a great way to diversify your use of the meat you have hunted. You can make your own pastry shells from scratch, but the pre-made frozen ones worked really well. This is a base recipe and can be modified to enhance the flavor profile. We had a really tasty result with some added pineapple, jalapenos, cilantro, and Cotillo cheese. You could also serve them with a chimichurri sauce or some salsa. We used a Ranch dressing spiked with Sriracha Chili sauce that was phenomenal. You can substitute the Elk with any kind of venison, or even ground waterfowl. The sky is the limit on these meat pies!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground Elk meat
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Bacon grease or olive oil for browning meat
  • 2 ounces diced Spanish chorizo sausage
  • 1 cup diced brown onion
  • ½ pound diced Yukon gold potatoes
  • 5 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 ½ tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • ½ cup diced green onions
  • ¼ cup pitted Spanish olives, chopped
  • 2 packages of empanada wrappers (12 count)
  • ¼ stick melted butter

Preparation Method
Season the Elk meat well with salt and pepper. This recipe is all about big robust flavors, so go heavy handed on this one. Melt three tablespoons of bacon grease in a large skillet over medium-high heat. You can use olive oil, but the bacon grease adds a lot more character. Add the ground elk and cook about 5 minutes, stirring it to break up the meat into small pieces. Cook until meat is browned.

Reduce the heat to medium, and add the diced chorizo and onions. Sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring often until the onion is soft and translucent. Next in is the potato, garlic, thyme, and oregano. Mix well with a spatula to incorporate and cook for a couple more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the tomato paste, paprika, cayenne, and beef stock. Adjust the heat to simmer and cook an additional 10 minutes. Stir in the green onions and olives, remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

The empanada wrappers can be found in the freezer section of most Mexican markets or ethnic food stores. Get the 5 inch diameter ones with sheets of plastic between each pastry shell if available. Make sure they are completely thawed out. Lay each wrapper on a parchment covered baking sheet. Moisten the outer edge of the shell with water. Add about 2 tablespoons of meat filling to the center. Fold the dough in half, completely enclosing the filling. Fill them as full as you can, I found a small ice cream scooper to be perfect. Press the edges together to seal, and then crimp them decoratively with your fingers or the tines of a fork. You will fill two baking sheets by the time you are finished.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the tops of the empanadas with melted butter and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool a bit and serve warm.

Wine and beer go hand in hand with empanadas. Try a traditional Malbec or an aged Cabernet Sauvignon on the wine side as accompaniment. A frosty American Amber or Red Ale will be quite tasty with this Argentinian classic dish. Cheers!