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Agricultural Review

2010 State Fair winning recipes

Pork and Cheese Empanadas wins Tarheel Pork Challenge

Domino Ireland of Raleigh took home the blue ribbon in the Tarheel Pork Challenge at the N.C. State Fair. His winning recipe, Pork and Cheese Empanadas, earned him $200 in the contest, which was sponsored by the N.C. Pork Council.

Recipes had to serve four to six people and have at least 4 ounces of pork per serving.Judging was based on taste appeal, appearance, originality of recipe and ease of preparation.

The winning recipe follows:

Pork and Cheese Empanadas

  • 1 14-ounce package frozen puff pastry
  • 12 ounces hot ground sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound pork loin, cubed (3/8 inch)
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon hot chili powder
  • 1/3 cup chopped tomato
  • 8 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thaw pastry according to the instructions on the package. In a large skillet, heat sausage, breaking up until brown, drain fat and set aside in a separate container. In same skillet, heat olive oil, add the onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the cubed pork loin. Cook until meat is no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Drain off any fat and liquid that accumulates. Add back in the sausage, thyme, cumin, hot chili powder and chopped tomato and continue to cook, stirring for another four or five minutes, allowing the flavors to combine. Let mixture cool for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Working with half the package of pastry at a time, roll it out to a 12-inch square. With a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the pastry into quarters. In the center of each square, place about ¼ cup of the meat mixture into a neat pile away from the edges of the dough. On top of this, sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the cheese and sprinkle of bacon. Wet the edges of the square dough using a rolled paper towel or your finger then carefully fold in half diagonally, pressing the edges down firmly so that they stick together. Seal shut by pressing with a fork. Place on a cookie sheet.

Repeat with the remaining dough and filling ingredients. Bake empanadas for 18 to 20 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving either hot or at room temperature.

Torte wins apple cooking contest

An Apple, Sausage and Cheddar Torte won first place in the N.C. Apple Growers Association recipe contest at the N.C. State Fair, earning Lisa Raschke of Raleigh $200.

Contestants had to create a non-dessert appetizer, casserole, stir fry, salad, sandwich or main dish using at least two cups of North Carolina-grown apples. Recipes were judged on taste, appearance and creativity.

The winning recipe follows:

Apple, Sausage and Cheddar Torte

  • 1 ready-made pie crust
  • 2 cups N.C. apples, sliced and peeled (use a flavorful apple such as Pink Lady, Granny Smith or Honeycrisp)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ pound sweet Italian or breakfast sausage (bulk or removed from casings)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 4 eggs

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place pie crust in 9-inch pie pan and bake 7 to 9 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the apples, onions, sugar and cinnamon, and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a separate bowl. Increase the heat to medium high and add sausage. Saute until browned, about 7-10 minutes, breaking the meat up as it is cooking. Remove from heat, draining excess grease onto a paper towel-lined dish.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the cheeses and eggs.

Place sausage on bottom of pre-baked pie crust. Add the cooked apple onion mixture over the sausage. Pour the cheese egg mixture over the apple mixture and spread it so it evenly covers the pie.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8-10.

For more winning State Fair recipes, click here.


NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Andrea Ashby, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047

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