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Empanada Gallega

I could never take food for granted.  There’s always something to learn, and I’m constantly surprised.  I knew that empanadas were a specialty of Galicia, but I didn’t realize they’d partly originated there.  I also didn’t know the “empanadas” I’d grown up with were actually empanidillas, smaller versions of the larger pies that Galician bakers first sold to pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela (a detail that make my history-major-geek heart beat faster).   Fortunately, they never stopped moving, spreading across Latin America, baked or fried, in a million different variations.
I thought it was a good time to start my own journey in search of the perfect empanada recipe, starting with the empanada Gallega from Simon and Inés Ortega’s 1080 Recipes.   Instead of pork tenderloin, I used chicken which worked well with the chorizo.  I also added a little saffron and pimentón to the “rustido” but it still had trouble standing up to the crust (or maybe I just overworked the dough).  Either way, it’s a start.  After all, empanadas can be filled with fish, beef, chicken or pork loin, vegetables or fruits, and seasoned in every possible way so I don’t plan on reaching my destination any time soon.

Empanada Gallega/Galician Pie
Adapted from 1080 from Simon and Inés Ortega featured on Epicurious, November 2007.

1/4 ounce (1 package) active-dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
3 eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
14 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into strips
2 canned or bottled bell piquillo peppers, or roasted bell peppers, drained and cut into strips
Salt

“Rustido”
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 pinch of saffron threads
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 chorizo sausage, casing removed and sliced

Mash the yeast with a pinch of salt and the lukewarm water in a cup or small bowl until smooth, then let stand for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is frothy. Beat two of the eggs in a bowl. In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast mixture, eggs, and salt.  Gradually add the flour to the liquid, one cup at a time until just combined.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Add the butter and knead the dough, about 5 minutes.  Add a little water to the dough if necessary.  Once the dough is smooth and elastic, form it into a ball, place it in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with a clean dish towel.  Let rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, make the “rustido.” Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add the garlic, and cook for 5 minutes more.  Stir in the paprika and saffron and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the chorizo and cook for 2 minutes more.  Sprinkle with parsley, remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in the skillet. Add the strips of meat and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Brush a 12-inch baking sheet or ovenproof baking dish with oil. Divide the dough into two pieces, one slightly bigger than the other. Roll out the larger piece on a lightly floured surface and use to line the pan or dish. Spread half the rustido over the dough. Lay the strips of meat on the rustido and add the strips of pepper. Spoon the remaining rustido over the top. Roll out the remaining dough and use it to cover the mixture. Seal the edges of the dough carefully, pressing them together and rolling them slightly. Pinch the dough in the center of the pie with two fingers to create a chimney to allow the steam to escape. Beat the remaining egg and brush it over the dough to glaze.

Bake for 15 minutes, then increase the oven temperature to 375°F, and bake for 15 minutes longer. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F and bake for 15 minutes more, until golden brown. Remove the pie from the oven. Serve hot or warm, straight from the dish, if you prefer.

Serves 6 to 8.

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. WOW – who would have thought! Big or small I love all kinds of empanadas.

    6 October 2010
  2. Hi Ana! So this is basically a meat pie? Kinda similar to those of past centuries (particularly Medieval times)? Pretty cool!

    6 October 2010
  3. empanada gallega???? no fish???? UHMMM Idont know….

    4 July 2013

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