Venison empanadas

Venison empanadas: popular Latin American turnovers filled with game meat. Venison mince is flavoured with ground hazelnut, thyme and a dash of cinnamon. These delicious meat empanadas are an alternative to more classic beef filling.

Empanadas are a popular food across South America. They consist of a pastry turnover that can have various fillings, either baked or fried. Fried empanadas are a popular street food. But you can also find them baked, and the pastry that encases the filling is delicious both ways.

The most common filling is meat, with beef accounting as the most widespread. This should not surprise, given how important the beef industry in many Latin American countries is. But empanadas can have various types of filling, even vegetarian ones like in these red cabbage and raisin empanadas.

Enjoy meat empanadas with a special filling: these venison empanadas have a delicious game meat mince filling with ground hazelnuts and a dash of cinnamon! Made from scratch with a lovely pastry and oven-baked, these homemade empanadas are the perfect meat appetizer. #empanadas #gamemeat #venison #venisonempanadas

Venison empanadas

In this post I’m presenting an empanada filling alternative that uses game meat. I was not a big wild meat consumer before I moved to Sweden, mostly because I did not know any hunters and had not easy access to game meat. In an attempt to make more conscious choices regarding my meat consumption, I have started including wild meat more and more into my diet. Hunting in Sweden is strictly regulated and carried out with high ethic standards. Meat from wild animals means no intensive breeding, the animals have lived in their natural habitat following a natural diet and, obviously, have received no hormones or antibiotics.

Wild game meat is healthier and usually leaner. While it may have a distinct wild flavour, the key is play around with the right ingredients to round its edges and bring out the best flavour. Venison was my game meat of choice for this empanadas recipe, but if you can’t find deer meat you can use elk/moose or wild boar. Game meat is more expensive but I believe that meat is one such commodity that should not be cheap.

In the mood for more wild meat? Try my reindeer stew with polenta.

Venison empanadas cut open to show filling.

How to make the empanadas dough

Empanadas dough from scratch takes about 10 minutes to make, followed by 20 minutes of resting time at room temperature. I recommend to take care of the dough first, then prepare the filling as the dough rests.

  • Pour the flour onto a working surface and form it into a mound. Make a well in the centre. Add the cubed butter to the centre of the mould. Stir the salt into the water and pour it inside the flour well.
  • Work the ingredients with your hands, knead for 6-7 minutes. A firm ball of dough should form, do not add any water to soften the dough as it should be quite hard.

Cover the dough with a tea towel and let rest for 20 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the filling.

How to make the venison hazelnut filling

The venison empanada filling features the following ingredients:

  • Ground venison, or other game meat of choice
  • Butter, since game meat is lean we need a fat to cook it in
  • Onion, to sauté together with the meat
  • Cinnamon
  • Thyme
  • Salt
  • Red wine, it will be evaporated and helps give a nice final finish to the meat
  • Hazelnuts, preferably toasted, ground.

For quantities, please refer to the recipe card below. You can toggle the quantities to adapt them to the size of your party in the recipe card.

Chopped red onion on a cutting board, salt, butter, hazelnuts and ground venison in the background.

  • Set a skillet on medium heat and melt the butter. Finely dice the onion and add it to the pan. Sauté 3-4 minutes, until soft but not brown.
  • Add the meat to the pan and stir to distribute the heat evenly. Add the cinnamon, thyme and salt. Cook the meat on medium-high heat until it looks cooked through, 5-6 minutes. Pour in the red wine and stir until evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Proceed to grind the hazelnuts either using a food processor or mortar and pestle. You can also buy them ground, but grinding them on the spot delivers more flavour. Hazelnuts are added both for their flavour and oil, which is brought out by grinding. I personally like to leave some coarser bits, too, for flavour.
  • Stir in the ground hazelnuts and let slightly cool while you roll out the dough.

How to fill and shape empanadas

Stretch and roll the dough ball to form a long cylinder. Cut out portions of it that are about 40-45 g. Roll out each dough portion with a rolling pin to 2 mm thick.

  • Have a pastry circle in one hand and add about 1 1/2 tbsp of filling. Lightly wet the edges of the pastry circle. Fold the circle in half, to create a half-moon shape encasing the filling inside.
  • Fold one side slightly overlapping the other one, flip edges over and pinch between fingers to secure.

Alternatively, you can press the egdes together and secure them by pressing them with the prongs of a fork. This is an easier method that does not require holding the pastry disc in your hand to fill it.

  • Place empanadas on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Lightly beat an egg and brush some eggwash on every empanada.

Brushing eggwash over homemade empanadas.

Baking the venison empanadas

Bake the empanadas in the preheated oven at 180°C (360°F) for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve the empanadas immediately, or keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Warm up the empanadas before serving, preferably in the oven to ensure the crust stays crispy. Microwaving may affect the pastry and make it soft/soggy.

Empanadas are excellent starters, served warm as finger food. In Latin America they are served as street food, so they suit the purpose well as they don’t necessarily require the use of cutlery to eat.

Turnovers – just like meat pies – are a great main course, too. Just add a nice salad like this spring onion potato salad or a simple warm side dish like my white wine asparagus.

Homemade venison empanadas on white plate.

Venison empanadas cut open to show filling.
5 from 1 vote
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Venison empanadas

Game meat empanadas filled with ground venison, hazelnuts and a dash of cinnamon.

Course Starter
Cuisine Latin American
Keyword empanadas from scratch, game meat empanadas, venison empanadas
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Bake time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4 people
Calories 1063 kcal
Author Eva | Electric Blue Food

Ingredients

For the empanada dough

  • 500 g flour
  • 100 g butter room temperature, cubed
  • 150 ml water lukewarm
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 egg

For the venison filling

  • 500 g ground venison
  • 40 g butter
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 100 ml red wine
  • 75 g hazelnuts ground

Instructions

1. Empanada dough

  1. Have the flour on a working surface and form it into a mound. Make a well in the centre.

  2. Add the cubed butter to the centre of the mould. Stir the salt into the water and pour inside the flour well.

  3. Work the ingredients with your hands, knead for 6-7 minutes. A firm ball of dough should form, do not add any water to soften the dough as it should be quite hard.

  4. Cover the dough with a tea towel and let rest for 20 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the filling.

2. Venison filling

  1. Set a skillet on medium heat and melt the butter. Finely dice the onion and add it to the pan. Sauté 3-4 minutes.

  2. Add the meat to the pan and stir to distribute the heat evenly. Add the cinnamon, thyme and salt. Cook the meat on medium-high heat until it looks cooked through, 5-6 minutes.

  3. Pour in the red wine and stir until evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat.

  4. Stir in the ground hazelnuts and let slightly cool while you roll out the dough.

3. Assemble and bake

  1. Stretch and roll the dough ball to form a long cylinder. Cut out portions of it that are about 40-45 g. Roll out each dough portion with a rolling pin to 2 mm thick.

  2. Have a pastry circle in one hand and add about 1 1/2 tbsp of filling.

  3. Lightly wet the edges of the pastry circle. Fold the circle in half, to create a half-moon shape encasing the filling inside.

  4. Press egdes together and secure them by pressing them between your fingers or with the prongs of a fork against the working surface.

  5. Place empanadas on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Lightly beat an egg and brush some eggwash on every empanada.

  6. Bake the empanadas in the preheated oven at 180°C (360°F) for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Nutrition Facts
Venison empanadas
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1063 Calories from Fat 459
% Daily Value*
Fat 51g78%
Saturated Fat 24g150%
Cholesterol 216mg72%
Sodium 520mg23%
Potassium 741mg21%
Carbohydrates 101g34%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 45g90%
Vitamin A 934IU19%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Calcium 69mg7%
Iron 11mg61%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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2 Comments

  1. Kim at Three Olives Branch January 3, 2021 at 04:47

    5 stars
    Such a great idea! The combination of the meat with the hazelnuts is so yummy! Definitely will be making these again.

    Reply
    1. Eva January 3, 2021 at 10:45

      Fantastic! Thank you for your feedback, Kim!

      Reply

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