On Saturday Serena and I fought some of the worst traffic I have ever seen in my life to bring my BBQ Pork Empanadas to the North Carolina State Fair’s KC Masterpiece recipe contest. I heard the State Fair was a big deal (evident by the over 800,000 people who attended last year). Saturday’s attendance was 131,699. I got an idea of how serious it was by the parking lot I-40 had turned in to just to get there.
What should have been a 15 minute ride turned into an almost 2 hour cuss fest of me shouting expletives worrying I would not make the 2pm entry deadline. We made it to the fair with 20 minutes to spare and I was thankful my paranoia had us leave home 2 hours early.
While waiting for the judges to deliberate, we walked around the fair and I decided to test some of the fair’s deep fried craziness. I decided on the chicken fried bacon, yup I will say it again, chicken fried bacon. For my side, I chose the deep fried mac and cheese (a reason why they need to sell health insurance at the State Fair). Serena looked at me as if she was watching a dead man as I crunched into my breaded bacon strip. It may have been that my nerves were out of whack because of the contest but I didn’t quite have the stomach for these fried treats.
We made our way back to the contest area and waited for the decision. The two categories were the Real Deal Recipe which was for grilled or roasted pork, chicken or beef. My empanadas were entered in the Wild Card Contest which could be any prepared recipe but was required to have ½ cup of KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce.
I wanted more than anything to win but it felt great to hear my name announced as the runner-up and it made all the work and sitting in traffic worth it. I would always see something like this and as winners were announced, I would say “Man I can come up with something better than that”. It felt great to stop talking about it and actually give it a shot; we can sometimes surprise ourselves when we stop making excuses of why we can’t do something and just do it.
2.5 lbs. Pork Butt
8 cloves of garlic (rough chop)
¼ cup Franks Hot Sauce
1/2 cup of KC Masterpiece Hickory Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon season salt
¼ cup vinegar
2 packages of Frozen Goya Empanada disk (thawed at room temperature)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place first eight ingredients in a Dutch oven and place in the oven for two hours or until pork is tender enough to pull apart with a fork.
Place pulled pork back in the Dutch oven to soak up juices and set aside. If there is too much excess water, place the Dutch oven back in the oven uncovered until some of the liquid heats off, set aside and cool. The pork can be made one or two days ahead.
In a deep fryer, heat enough oil to 350 degrees (or in a pot large) so you can fully immerse turnovers.
Add the pork to the center of a Goya disc and fold in half. Use a fork to press the edges of it closed. Repeat until all the mixture is used or you run out of disk.
Place the empanadas in the oil in batches and fry for 5-10 minutes (until golden brown) and place on a rack or paper towel to drain.
To see the other winning recipes click here