The Galician empanada is a signature pie in the Galician cuisine. Empanadas appear carved as early as in the twelfth century in the Portico de la Gloria of Santiago de Compostela. Empanada Gallega is popular all over Spain and around the world, it is one of the most known Spanish dishes.
The dough is made of wheat flour, fat (lard or oil), and water. The base for the filling is sofrito — onions and peppers — plus seafood or meat. Empanada Gallega is served freshly cooked or cold, sliced into portions, as an appetizer or tapas. The most common versions of this pie are made with canned tuna, scallops, and chopped pork sausage. My absolute favorite are scallops.
Empanadas Gallega can be large or small, round or square; they can be shaped as a large crescent and named empanadillas. As it often happens with famous dishes, there are many recipes of this pie. Mine is based on the original recipe in Spanish from recetaempanadagallega.com, which is featured as one of the best recipes of this pie. It uses a very interesting cooking method to prepare vegetable filling — peppers and onions are poached in oil, strained, and the same flavored oil is used for making pie dough. Which is genius!
When in Texas
My first Empanada Gallega was made in Barcelona by my dear friend and pastry arts teacher Maria. Then I made it many times home in Texas. At the beginning, I followed the recipe to the letter. Later, I started experimenting with different local sweet red and mild green chile peppers. Peppers variety resulted in more depth of flavor. This year, when working on new Hatch recipes, I remembered this Empanada Gallega recipe. Why not to use the same cooking methods, but for Hatch? Needless to say, most of diced and cooked Hatch didn’t make ше to the pie… So far, in my opinion this is the best way to cook Hatch without charring and peeling it.
Measure olive oil. Prepare and dice peppers, onions, and garlic.
Preheat oil to 375F/190C. Add all diced vegetables at once. They will bring the temperature of oil down. Bring the temperature back to 375F and keep it the same.
Stir vegetables from time to time. Cooking time depends on the amount of vegetables being poached.
Vegetables should be soft and NOT caramelized when done. Strain oil. Let vegetables and oil cool to room temperature or lower.
In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients. In a cup, dissolve salt in water and add it to the bowl. Stir to make large lumps. Add oil. Knead the dough till soft and smooth. It won't be sticky. Sniff your hands — don't they smell delicious?! Divide the dough into two equal parts and place in closed containers.
Let the dough ferment in room temperature for 45 min - 1 hour (depends on room temperature). It is now ready for shaping empanada. You can also refrigerate it after the first 30 minutes and use it the nest day.
for shaping empanada
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare egg wash by mixing 1 egg yolk with 1 tbsp water and a pinch of salt.
Roll each portion of dough ~10"D. They will be either bottom and top parts of one round empanada or two empanadillas. Spread generous amount of poached vegetables and place sliced scallops on top.
Make holes for steam escape.
Shape pies and secure the filling. Apply egg wash.
Bake in hot oven for about 35 minutes, until golden and crusty.
I personally prefer them served room temperature or warm, not hot. Slice and serve.
Poaching vegetables. Yes, we need a lot of oil to poach vegetables. If we cheat with the amount of oil, it will be a different cooking method and a different result at the end. Not all the oil is used for the dough. The rest can be used for cooking, for dipping bread, and for dressings. The only way to use less oil is to poach vegetables in batches. When being poached, they should completely be submerged into oil. They should be soft and not caramelized when done. It makes sense to cook vegetables and flavored oil one day, then make the pie next day.
I highly recommend to make more vegetables and oil than you need for this pie. You won't regret it!