When Wendy Wagner and her husband, Scott Forreider, opened their own restaurant, Mustang Wendy’s in Harbor Springs, they turned to the kind of after-hours casual food they’d learned to love when working out West: casual cowboy fare like sourdough biscuits, smoked meats and wild game with a little Latin influence tossed in for spice. Wendy calls it Fresh-Tex-Mex. When she can, Wendy adds locally grown veggies like vine-ripened tomatoes, just-cut herbs or pungent peppers fresh from the Harbor Springs farm market and other Michigan farms. Check out this empanada recipe for a taste of what Mustang Wendy’s (mustangwendys.com) is serving up.

Mustang Wendy’s Empanadas


  • 3cups flour (plus a little more for kneading)
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 3tablespoons shortening
  • ¾cup cold water
  • 1egg
  • 1egg white
  • 2teaspoons vinegar

Combine flour, salt and shortening in a food processor and pulse until mixture begins to bead and has a sandlike appearance. Combine water, egg, egg white and vinegar into a measuring cup and whisk egg and water together well. Turn food processor on and slowly start to pour water/egg mixture in until gone and dough begins to form. Remove and lightly knead into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Makes approximately 12 six-inch empanadas.

Salsa Roja:

  • 3 stemmed, whole tomatoes, or large tomatillos for a more citrusy and acidic flavor
  • ¼ pound stemmed and seeded Guajillo chilis
  • ¼ cup cilantro stemmed
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place all contents into a large pot and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook until mixture reduces by 1/4. Allow mixture to cool and puree in blender.


  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup fresh, diced, chard or kale

Simmer chicken in salsa roja. Cool, pull meat from bone. Mix in cheese and kale.

Form the dough into 2-inch balls. Roll them out on a floured surface. Spoon in filling and fold dough over to make a half moon. Crimp closed. Deep fry at 350° for 5 minutes or bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes. Serve with crème fraîche and remaining salsa roja.

This article is also featured in the August 2013 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s MagazineGet your copy now!