So my plan here was, to make an empanada that captured what it’s like to eat ‘Canadian’ food, using indigenous ingredients. I knew it would be a challenge because our northern climate doesn’t lend itself well to bountiful miracles of nature. But after some research it turns out there are some cool ingredients indigenous to Canada (and more generously the northern Americas) and with some reprieve they form a delicious pocket pie.
I relented my quest for using purely indigenous ingredients and used ingredients typically associated with Canada, like peameal bacon and maple syrup. (I know, pigs are not native to Canada, but hey, we love our back bacon) as well as some others that are native to the surrounding area. So I created Canuck Empanadas stuffed with peameal bacon, savory potatoes, Oka and Balderson cheddar, caramelized onions and shallots and dandelion greens, in a maple syrup egg wash dusted with a sunflower seed and sage crumble. All you need now is a plaid checkered shirt and a hockey stick and voila, a true Canuck experience.
Turns out, they were pretty damn delicious.
There are several components in these pies, so I’ll break up this post into its constituent parts.
Makes about 18 three by six-inch rectangular empanadas.
Use the Basic Empanada Dough Recipe here, but don’t use the final egg wash step, instead, substitute for the maple syrup egg wash found below
Whole peameal bacon - approximately 1 pound - (recipe follows)
Savory potatoes (recipe follows)
Caramelized onions and shallots (recipe follow)
1 ½ cups of dandelion greens, finely chopped
½ cup of Oka cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
½ cup of Balderson cheddar, cut into ½ inch cubes
Preheat oven to 375F
Place peameal bacon on a small parchment-lined roasting pan or casserole dish
Roast for approximately 35-45 minutes, or until the outside is a rich golden colour and crispy. The bacon is already cooked; here we are really just crisping up the outside and getting rid of some of the moisture.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Once cool enough to handle, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 cups of Yukon Gold potatoes, skinned and chopped into ½ inch cubes
1 tablespoon of grape seed oil (or vegetable oil)
1 ½ tablespoon of summer savory
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375F
Toss all ingredients together and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet
Bake for 15 minutes, turning half way through
Remove and let cool completely
Caramelized Onions and Shallots
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
4-5 shallots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons of butter
Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat
Add onions and shallots and coat evenly with butter
Stir occasionally and let them achieve a brown colour
Reduce heat slightly and continue to brown for about 25 minuets
If they start to burn, add a splash of water and stir
Remove from heat and let cool
Sunflower and Sage Crumble
½ cup of shelled sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon of fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon of smoked salt (optional)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
Pinch of chili flakes (optional)
Preheat oven to 300F
On a parchment-lined baking sheet place sunflower seeds in a single layer
Roast in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until golden, giving the baking sheet a shake half-way through
Remove from oven and let cool completely
Once cooled, chop the sunflower seeds roughly and combine with remaining ingredients
Toss and set aside
Maple Syrup Egg Wash
Use this in place of the regular egg wash found in the basic empanada dough recipe
2 ½ tablespoons of maple syrup
1 tablespoon tepid water
Whisk all ingredients together
Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. This keeps the cheese from melting and makes stuffing the empanada dough much easier.
In a large bowl combine the chopped peameal bacon, savory potatoes, caramelized onions and shallots, dandelion greens and both of the cheeses.
Stuff each of the prepared 6 by 6-inch dough squares with about ¼ cup of filling mixture
Brush edges with room temperature water, fold over and seal by either pinching with fingertips or with the prongs of a large fork.
Assemble on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with the maple syrup egg wash
Top each empanada with a sprinkle of the sunflower seed and sage crumble.
Chill in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes. At this point, you can freeze the empanadas if you wish
Preheat oven to 350F and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden