I love these. If it were up to me I would make them all the time. The rest of the family aren’t so keen, not because they don’t like them but because they are unconvinced that a parcel of yummy filling and a bowl of dip (tomato sauce for the kids, sweet chilli sauce for us) is actually a full meal. So I think these will be a day out/trip to the allotment treat, rather than a regular meal.
I think of these as a dish from the Philippines, or Latin America, but this recipe came from Casa Moro as they are actually Spanish, which is why they are eaten all over the Spanish influenced world. I don’t know what the exact difference is between them and pierogi (Polish) or pasties (Cornish). I guess a dough wrapping to make food easier to carry is universal. Because it is really good.
The pork filling is one of the suggested fillings from the book, the spinach and potato fillings were for stuffed bread but I figured they’d work and they did.
From a cooking with kids point of view, eldest insisted on helping me with these on a day I didn’t really want help and it turned out there was actually loads she could do – she can chop finely using the chopper attachment on our stick blender, she crushed garlic and I was most impressed by her hard work grinding fennel seeds old school style in a mortar and pestle. She also doled out the fillings into the pastry and helped to seal the empanadas once they were filled.
Pastry (enough for about 18 using a 5.5″ diameter circle)
400g strong flour
4 tablespoons olive oil
50g melted butter
75ml white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar (finer than granulated – soft brown or caster)
3 tablespoons warm water
Mix the dry ingredients together, add the olive oil, melted butter and wine and rub as though you were making pastry. Add the water and knead. Rest for at least an hour. Make the fillings while the pastry is resting.
Once the fillings are made start to roll out the pastry. I pull off chunks and roll them out as thin as I can and then cut circles out – I use a baby bowl as a template as I don’t have a cutter big enough. I’m sure free hand would be fine too. Then put 2 spoonfuls (I was using a soup spoon as that was what was around) of the filling on half of the circle and fold the other half over the top. Pinch the side closed and you can do an egg wash if you want but I forgot and they tasted fine. Put in a pre-heated oven at 200 C for about 12 to 15 minutes. The one that lasted long enough for a photo was slightly over cooked as my oven tends to be fast.
Pork Filling (enough for about half the pastry)
You can also use this as a pasta sauce if you add some chopped tomatoes to make it a little more liquid. Or as a filling for a wrap, which is where the leftovers of the most recent batch ended up. Basically, pork mince cooked like this is very good indeed. The sweetness of the paprika works well with pork’s own slightly sweet note.
250g minced pork
a large onion, chopped
a red pepper, chopped (I chopped the onion and pepper together in the chopping attachment that came with my stick blender as it chops finer than I can)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a bunch of finely chopped parsley (a bigger bunch if you like parsley, less if you’re not that found of it)
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, ground in a mortar & pestle
1 dessert spoon tomato purée
1 teaspoon paprika
Fry the pork in some olive oil until it is coloured through. Put the pork aside and fry the chopped onions and pepper until they start to caramelise. Add the fennel seed, garlic and parsley and cook for about another 10 minutes. Mix in the paprika and tomato purée, cook for 5 minute longer and season.
Potato Filling (enough for 6 empanadas)
I made these with cumin rather than the spicing the book suggests as that was what I had and I like potato with cumin. No idea if potato and cumin is a mix you’d ever have in more authentic empanadas.
300g firm potatoes in chunks
6 spring onions (leeks would work too)
Put 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan. Heat. When hot add the onions, potatoes and cumin seeds. Stir to mix and reduce the heat before covering them. Stir occasionally to stop them sticking and cook until the potatoes cook through. Remove from the heat and season.
Spinach Filling (enough for 6 empanadas)
This is nicely sour. Since eldest won’t eat spinach anyway, might as well play with interesting flavours.
finely chopped small onion
Bag of spinach (this seems to be 200g to 250g of spinach round here), washed
1 tablespoon sumac
Heat olive oil in a pan and fry the onions until starting to turn golden. Add the spinach and allspice and cook until the spinach is wilted. Take from the heat, drain if seems wet and put in a bowl. You’re then meant to chop it, but I find chopping wet spinach tricky so I use the kitchen scissors to snip it into bits instead. Stir in the sumac then season after tasting.