Bison Empanadas

Empanadas seem like a meal all in one…like pizza.  I had a vegetarian one the other day and throughly enjoyed it. Also, realized that I had never made one.  Both attempts at the No-knead bread ended up in the garbage last week, so was a little apprehensive about the whole dough thing, but no yeast was involved. Game on!

There are a ton of recipes out there since 24 different countries make empanadas.  Fillings can be sweet or savory. Meats, vegetables, cheeses, you name it, it can be inside an empanada.  You can either fry or bake them.  The dough is usually a mixture of flour, water, and a type of fat (butter or lard).  I didn’t want to do the norm and came upon a recipe for bison empanadas.  Going on two years now as a vegetarian, every once in a while I crave a burger.  And when that happens, I have turned to bison.  Unlike beef, bison is raised strictly on a grass-fed diet, no hormones, no antibiotics, and no corn.  I always shake my head when I see a restaurant menu that states, “Grade A Beef- Corn Fed.”  Corn isn’t even their normal diet, hence why they need all the antibiotics to combat their intestinal trauma.

The first time I had bison was in Toronto at Canoe.  Spectacular view by the way!  On the occasion that I do have bison, I am reminded of what a chef once told me.  If you plan on eating an animal, be respectful of the whole animal and don’t be wasteful.  I bought what I could eat, was mindful of where it came from, and gave thanks.

Empanada Dough


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes

1 large egg

1/3 cup ice water

1 tbs distilled white vinegar


Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (pea-size) butter lumps.

Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork.  Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated.

Turn mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together.  form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.

Roll out till 1/8″ thick, and cut into small circles (approximately 6″ wide).

* I had to add more water than the recipe called for  (1/4 cup) and used my fingers to break up the butter* Recipe from Gourmet – October 2004

The bison empanada recipe is here.  I ended up roasting red peppers (hence the funny first picture) instead of using the piquillo peppers.  The raisins made it a tad sweet tasting, so may opt to leave them out next time, but it seemed like it was pretty traditional in most recipes.



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2 responses to “Bison Empanadas

  1. Norma Madeo

    Wow!!! I’m impressed…. Your empanadas look beautiful. I saw them in the window of a Cuban restaurant the other day…and thought of you. No, I didn’t buy one; I was trying to be good that day… no fried foods!!
    Congratulations…. Making Empanandas (and/or Pastelitos) is quite a feat!!!

  2. Melissa

    Thank you! I want to be able to do the repulgue (fancy edge). I baked mine, so didn’t feel too guilty when I was on the third one. Recipe is really easy, you should try it.

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