Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sweet Pulled Pork "Empanada's"

Photo Credit Katie Osgood Photography
When I first started cooking I was watching a lot of cooking television. I was always amazed by the competition shows where they would be given an ingredient and would have to just come up with something. Without a recipe. Or time to research. How could they possibly just make all these things up??? What I learned was that what it comes down to is two things: techniques and flavors. I think it was really my experience working at Pizza Antica that really helped me begin to understand those two things. Chef Gordon Drysdale has a unique gift for balancing and enhancing flavors. A salty to a sweet. An umami to an acid. Slowly as I began trying new things I've learned new cooking techniques. I usually start with something that I want to cook, research 5 or 6 recipes and compare and contrast them to see what the core process is. Once that's been determined (or at least my favorite version there of) I play with the ingredients I'm interested in using. I try my hardest to be conscientious about aiming for healthy combinations. But I have a deep love of two things- cheese and puff pastry. So screw it at least every menu I prepare has greens.

A Friend recently posted a picture of some empanadas that she made. I can't say I remember ever having eaten empanadas so I have to say this is the reason that part is in quotes for the following recipe. I'm not even sure these count. But that's what they were inspired by and essentially an empanada is a Spanish popover or any other filled pastry. All the recipes I read were chicken or beef but I wanted pork. I recently got a great pulled pork recipe and started day dreaming. What if I added golden raisins and let them plum up in the juice? What if I added chopped up dates? Imagining all that wrapped in puff pastry got my wheels turning and I couldn't help but day dream about it for two days till I could bring it to fruition. Luckily I had a couple gatherings last Sunday so I had lots of people to test drive it on!

Below is the recipe for my current favorite appetizer. I will definitely be making this for Abbie's family hors de vours party before Thanksgiving they were a huge hit at both picnic's I attended!

In a CrockPot combined:
2 Lbs Pork Butt (excess fat removed)
 With a Rub of :
1 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Ground Ginger

Let cook on Low over night or through out the work day- minimum 10 hours. After 10 hours use forks to pull the pork apart add 1 Cup Golden Raisins and 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (I went with Sweet Baby Ray's Sweet & Spicy) and simmer on low for 1 more hour. Follow by adding 1 Cup chopped Dates.

Depending on how big you want to make your empanadas choose an appropriate cookie cutter. I used a round about 2 1/2 inches across which made for the perfect two bite appetizer. I was able to get 48 out of two packages of pre-made puff pastry. You can adjust how much puff pastry you buy dependant on how many appetizers you need but I don't suggest lessening the pulled pork as it might not come out as well in smaller quantities. After rolling out the dough and cutting out the circles fill the center with the pulled pork mix, paint half with an egg wash and fold over. Press with a fork to secure the two sides together and add a nice texture.

Place evenly spaced on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush the outside with the egg wash.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 17 - 20 minutes (I found that after prepping them all that freezing them for a few minutes helped them turn out just a little bit nicer). Remove from the oven when they have a nice golden outside. Let cool on a rack or if you must on the tray for few minutes (insides will be very hot). From there- Enjoy! These delicious and impressive little treat will please any crowd (I've fed them to some serious foodies and they FLEW off the plate) I'm excited to make more to share!

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