Looking like a double-crust pizza, empanada Gallega, a treat from Galicia, is actually crafted from flaky pastry dough. Bakery windows across Spain are filled with these, which beckon passersby to head in for a slice.
Katie Button, the lauded executive chef and co-owner of Nightbell and Cúrate Bar de Tapas in Asheville, North Carolina, included this recipe in her cookbook, Cúrate: Authentic Spanish Food From an American Kitchen (Flatiron Books, 2016). Her secret weapon for the dough is to add reserved cooking oil from the sofrito. It increases the flavor profile exponentially.
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
- 1 large onion, very thinly sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and very thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup crushed San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 6-ounce can or jar tuna packed in olive oil, drained and shredded
- 2 tablespoons thin-sliced pitted Kalamata olives
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
In large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all vegetables are very soft, about 20 minutes. Set fine-mesh sieve over measuring cup. Strain vegetables and return to pan, reserving drained liquid.
Add crushed tomatoes to vegetables. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid has mostly evaporated, about 10 minutes. Stir in tuna, olives and salt. Transfer to airtight container. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
- ¾ cup sofrito oil
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
Check amount of reserved sofrito oil. If not ¾ cup, add olive oil to make up difference.
Pulse flour, salt and yeast in food processor until well mixed. Add sofrito oil and ½ cup water. Process until dough comes together. Move dough to work surface. Knead a few times and roll into ball. Place in bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.
Fill small bowl with ice and water. Bring small saucepan of water to boil. Add 1 egg, and cook 12 minutes. Transfer to ice bath. When cool, peel and dice. Beat remaining egg with cream in small bowl to make egg wash.
Heat oven to 375˚F. Divide dough in half. On parchment paper, roll each piece into a 13-inch round (1/8-inch thick). Slide one round onto rimless cookie sheet. Spread vegetables evenly over dough, leaving ¾-inch border. Sprinkle hard-boiled egg evenly on top. Pat egg into filling to ensure there’s no air pockets.
Flip other dough round over filling, aligning edges. Peel off parchment. Press dough edges together and pinch all the way around to seal.
Brush egg wash over empanada. Using sharp knife, cut 2-inch “X” in center of empanada. Add three 1-inch air vents around center. Firmly press down dough to remove air pockets. Cut air vents open again, if needed.
Place in oven. Bake until golden brown, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool pan on wire rack. Cut empanada into 8 equal pieces, and serve warm or room temperature. Serves 8.
Button’s husband, Spanish native Felix Meana, manages the front of house and the wine list at Cúrate. With his wife’s empanada Gallega, Meana likes Guímaro’s 2015 Ribeira Sacra Tinto, made from the Mencía grape. “Red wines from [Galicia] tend to be lighter and tangier so that they pair well with seafood,” he says. “This wine has some nice black fruit aromas, pepper and black olive, but it is bright, juicy, and fresh with a nice minerality, a perfect red for a Spanish picnic.”