It’s funny how traditions start. Turkey empanadas did not become part of that tradition until much later. As a child I enjoyed Mom’s turkey dinners with our large family. I remember leftover turkey sandwiches for one or two days at the most, but with 10 of us, it did not last. When I learned to roast my first turkey, I was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of turkey I would always have leftover. And with no large family to finish it off, I quickly had to come up with a plan.
A few of my favorite leftover turkey meals are, enchiladas, mole, flautas and now turkey empanadas. I have been baking leftover turkey empanadas for quite a few years now. So much so, that one day my neighbor stopped me just to ask if I would be baking some this year, LOL! I like to share my food when I can. They freeze well, so you can snack on them throughout the next couple of weeks. Or you can save them like I do and serve them on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as a brunch item.
First prepare the dough. In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, cut in the shortening until you have small crumbles. Whisk the egg and milk together. Gradually add this to the flour mixture until dough begins to form. Transfer dough to a flat work surface and knead for 7 to 8 minutes until you have a mostly smooth and elastic dough. If it feels too dry, add in a little more milk. If it feels too sticky, work in a little more flour. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
While the dough is resting, chop the turkey meat small. Add your fillings to individual bowls and set up your work-station. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
When ready, take your dough ball and roll in into a log form on flat surface. Using a knife or bench cutter for baking, slice the log in half. Then take each half and cut it in half again. You should have four pieces. Take each piece and cut it into 4 equal pieces. So now you should have 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten slightly. Transfer onto plate and keep covered with plastic.
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Roll each dough ball out to about 5 inches in diameter. If you need to sprinkle surface with a little flour, using as little as possible. Fill each empanada disk with 1/2 tablespoon cranberry, 1 tablespoon turkey and 1 tablespoon of stuffing. Dip fingers in a little water and go around the bottom edge of disk. Fold dough over to cover filling and gently press out any air. Press to seal edges.
Now, you can use a fork or you can pinch and fold over with your thumb and fore finger to make the edge decorative. Repeat until all are done. Place on baking sheet as you fill them. Brush or spray the empanadas with milk or water and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper while dough is moist.
Bake for 30 minutes on bottom shelf in oven. Move to higher shelf and broil for a minute to brown the tops. Remove from oven and let rest.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Serve with extra gravy for dipping.
If you like a shiny finish on your baked empanadas, brush them with egg wash instead of water or milk. Simply whisk 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water.