These tasty Spanish bread parcels are a speciality of the Galicia region and are also popular across Latin America (where many people are originally descended from Galician immigrants). While the two fillings below are popular, minced beef or veal and seafood are also found widely, so feel free to be creative about exactly what you put in. My personal favourite is the chicken version. It tastes best when leg meat is used but can also be made with breast fillets if you prefer. A word of warning: empanada dough without salt is dreary, so never forget it!
450 grams strong white bread flour 120 ml milk 100 ml water 150 ml olive oil 25 grams fresh yeast or 2 sachets dried yeast 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika 1 egg for brushing
1 large onion 2 green peppers 2 cloves garlic 100 grams peas ½ tin plum tomatoes, plus all the juice Either 450 grams chicken breast or 800 grams chicken legs 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon (optional)
As above, except instead of chicken, use: 400 grams tuna steak 3 eggs
Dissolve the yeast in a little warm water and leave to stand for ten minutes. Sift the flour, salt and paprika into a bowl and add the liquids in two stages. Mix with your hands to create a fully blended dough (as the dryness of different flours varies considerably you may need more flour or oil). Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for 15 minutes, creating a supple and elastic lump. Put back in the mixing bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave somewhere warm for an hour.
If you are using chicken breast, simply cut the meat into small cubes and fry it until cooked through. If you are using chicken legs, fry them until brown, then finish them off for 15 minutes in a medium oven. While these are finishing, chop the onion finely and fry gently in olive oil in a frying pan, without browning or crisping the pieces. Chop the pepper and garlic and add to the pan once the onions have turned slightly translucent. Continue cooking over a low heat until both the onions and peppers are soft. Add the tomatoes, tomato and lemon juice, paprika, tarragon, and peas to the pan and bring to a very gentle bubble. Once the peas are soft and the tomatoes boiled down until the pan is almost dry, remove from the heat and leave the sauce to drain in a sieve (anything too soupy will waterlog the pastry). Strip the chicken legs, if you're using them, of their meat and dice the flesh (if you keep the skins intact, they are delicious fried separately to a crisp in very hot oil). Mix the meat into the sauce and check the seasoning. Leave to cool until lukewarm.
Grill the tuna steaks until cooked through and then cut into bite-sized chunks. Boil the eggs until hard (8 minutes should do it) then plunge them into cold water and peel off the shells. Cut the eggs into large chunks and mix with the tuna. Prepare the tomato sauce as above, leave to cool and mix everything together.
First, roll the dough out thin on a floured surface. Cut circles out of it with a high-sided bowl, tracing the indentation it makes with the tip of a knife. Top each circle with a tablespoon or two of filling, then brush half the dough's edge with beaten egg. Fold the other half of the dough over to meet the brushed edge, then seal the package with the tines of a fork, pressing down to create a ribbed frill. Carefully cut three slits in the top of each empanada, then bake them on a preheated baking sheet in an oven at 190 degrees centigrade, also preheated. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Makes roughly 8 empanadas (enough for four people).