tuna-and-goat-cheese-empanadas
This recipe is for a tuna and goat cheese filling which is still a typical filling from the region as some of the earliest versions of the dish were made with fish, and in particular tuna, which is commonly found in Spain thanks to its extensive coastline. This recipe makes the smaller, bite size versions of the dish which are called ‘empanadillas‘. These little Spanish pies are therefore great party food and can even be taken on picnics and eaten cold.

Empanadillas are one of the main players in Galician gastronomy. Throughout the region one can find many variations and it is said that every Galician family, bar and restaurant claims to have the best recipe for empanadas. So make sure to go and try all the different types if you ever visit Spain!

The history of these mini Spanish pasties is actually closely linked to the Moorish occupation of Spain back in medieval times. It is believed that the Spanish version of the dish actually derives from the small Arabic pies called samosas. The large version, empanadas were first mentioned in a Catalan cookbook called ‘Libre del Coch’ which was published in 1520 by Ruperto de Nola who wrote about empanadas with seafood fillings.

The word empanada comes from the Spanish verb ’empanar’ which those of you who study Spanish abroad will know means to wrap or coat in bread, referring to the way the Spanish pie is made.

Empanadas have also become very popular in Latin America which is thanks to the large number of Galician immigrants who settled on the continent. The empanada gallega is therefore quite easy to find in many countries across South America, and many countries have their own versions of the dish.

The beauty of empanadas is there variety and there are a number of different fillings that you could try out. Tuna and Goat’s cheese is a great filling for these empanadillas as tuna is a typical fish which is eaten Spanish and especially in Galicia. Goat’s cheese too is traditionally a very Mediterranean food and compliments the fish well. So if you are holding a Spanish or Mediterranean dinner party, why not make these cute little Spanish pies.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 tbsps minced onion
  • 6 oz. canned tuna (preferably in olive oil)
  • 4 oz. goat’s cheese
  • 3 oz. pimento-stuffed olives, chopped
  • 5 tbsps toasted pine nuts
  • 5 tbsps capers, chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 16 oz. of puff pastry (defrosted if bought frozen
  • Serves 6-8

 

Heat up the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and fry for around 5 minutes or until they are soft. Remove the pan from the heat and set to one side.

Using a fork mash up the tuna with the onion, garlic, goat’s cheese, pine nuts, salt, pepper, paprika, pimento-stuffed olive and capers in a bowl. Leave to one side.

Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface so that it is about half a centimetre thick (⅛ inch). Using a cookie cutter that is about 8 centimetres (3 inches) in diameter, cut out as many circles of dough as possible, re-rolling the dough as necessary.

Take each dough circle and cup in your hand. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the filling into the centre of the dough circle. Brush the edges of the dough with a little water and the fold the dough over to form a semi-circle shape. Pinch the edges of the dough together and press them down with the back of a fork.

Place on a baking tray and then bake for 15 minutes in a medium-hot oven. Remove and brush the tops of the pasties with beaten egg and then bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until the tops of the empanadillas are golden brown and crispy.

Remove from the oven and serve hot or leave to cool and then serve.

Adapted from SpanishFood.org

morteruelo

Morteruelo is a rich and ancient dish from Cuenca, a province of Castilla– La Mancha, east of Madrid. It is a pâtélike spread of game meats, usually served during winter on toasted bread. Since Castilla– La Mancha is large, variations of this recipe exist in different areas. In neighboring Albacete Province, for example, there is a similar dish known as ajo mataero, and in La Solana, in Ciudad Real Province, the local version is called ajo pringue. What these dishes have in common is the slow cooking of the meats and the addition of torta, the local flatbread, to make a robust nourishment for shepherds.

Today, the recipe has been revived and is widely served in restaurants specializing in traditional cooking. I usually make morteruelo when I expect a large number guests on a given day. But if you don’t finish it at a single sitting, you can refrigerate the leftovers for several days.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ hare or 1 small rabbit, about 3 pounds, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 partridge, about ¾ pound, cut into quarters
  • 1 pound boneless pork loin, in a single piece
  • ½ pound jamón serrano
  • 1 ham bone from a dry-cured ham (optional)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ pound pork liver, in a single piece
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ pound bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 heaping tablespoon sweet pimentón
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of caraway seeds
  • ½ pound country-style bread, thinly sliced and toasted

In a large stockpot, combine the hare, partridge, pork loin, jamón serrano, and ham bone, if using. Season with salt and pepper, add cold water to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any foam that forms on the surface. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, skimming as needed, for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the meats are tender. Add water as necessary to keep the meats covered while cooking.

Scoop the meats out of the pot and set aside to cool to room temperature. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a saucepan and reserve. When the meats are cool, remove and discard any bones. Shred the meats into fine pieces and set aside.

Bring the reserved cooking liquid to a boil and add the pork liver. Season with salt, decrease the heat to medium, and boil gently for 15 minutes, or until the liver turns pale. Lift the liver from the pot and let cool to room temperature. Strain the cooking liquid again and reserve about 4 cups. Grate the cooled liver on the large holes of a handheld grater and reserve.

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring often with a wood spoon, for about 5 minutes, or until golden. Remove and discard the garlic. In the same oil, fry the bacon over medium heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the cinnamon, pimentón, cloves, and caraway seeds and stir well. Add the shredded meats and grated liver and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until well blended.

Add the 4 cups reserved cooking liquid, mix well, and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Slowly add the toasted bread a slice at a time, breaking it up with the wooden spoon until completely incorporated into the rest of the ingredients. Cook and stir for 10 minutes longer, or until the mixture acquires a smooth, creamy, pâtélike texture.

Serve at room temperature.

This dish is best with classic picos breadsticks. Click here for the recipe.