Photo by Tara Stevens
As the weather cools down this month, my thoughts turn to autumn leaves and country walks—and for that, some sort of picnic is a prerequisite. The Romans, it is believed, invented what the Brits know as the Cornish pasty as a practical means of carrying lunch about while conquering the world. Similar moveable feasts have cropped up everywhere, including the Spanish empanada.
For the filling:
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 400g minced beef
- ½ a cooking chorizo, skin removed and crumbled
- 2 heaped tsp cumin
- 1 heaped tsp pimentón
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 small hot red chilli, sliced (optional)
- 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 3 tbsp raisins
For the pastry:
- 450 g plain flour
- 200 g butter, very cold
- 2 tsp salt
- Iced water
- 1 egg + a splash of milk
METHOD (serves 6)
To make the pastry
- Add the salt to the flour, then cut the butter into small cubes and rub together until you get a crumb-like mix.
- Add a tablespoon of iced water at a time to the mix, until you get a soft, pliable dough (approx 6 tbsp).
- Wrap in cling film and chill for 20-30 minutes.
To make the filling
- Sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil over a medium heat until soft and golden.
- Add the minced beef and fry until browned, then add the cumin, pimentón, salt and chilli.
- Stir in the chorizo, raisins and sherry vinegar and cook through for about 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
To assemble the empanadas
- Beat the egg with a splash of milk.
- Cut the pastry in half (it’s easier to roll in smaller batches) and roll until it is about ¼ centimetre.
- Using a cookie cutter, cut into 10-12cm rounds.
- Place a couple of tablespoons of filling into the middle of the pastry, brush the rim with the egg and fold over to form a crescent shape pressing down along the rim to seal it.
- Pierce the tops of the empanadas twice with a sharp knife, brush with beaten egg and milk and transfer to a non-stick baking pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 200ºC, turn onto a metal rack to cool.
For a vegetarian version, replace the beef and chorizo with Swiss chard, aubergines and a few chunks of goat’s cheese.
What to watch out for this month at the market: Aubergines, Swiss chard (bledes), onions and garlic.
Tara Stevens is a food writer and cook who splits her time between Barcelona and her little cooking school in the Fez Medina. Passionate about Spanish and Moroccan cuisine, she takes traditional recipes and gives them a modern makeover using local and seasonal ingredients. Follow Tara on Instagram @courtyardkitchenfez and Twitter @taralstevens.