Margarita's International Recipes


Empanada Gallega de carne

Galician Meat Pie

Empanada Gallega de carne

I have heard about empanadas gallegas since I was a little girl – growing up in Argentina, where there was so much immigration from Galicia that all Spaniards are referred to as "gallegos," that's to be expected – but it wasn't until this, my 46th year, that I finally was able to try such empanada. And I liked it.

It turns out that empanadas gallegas are not actually empanadas, at least not how we know them in Argentina (though, interestingly, the basic ingredients for the meat filling are pretty similar). Rather they are pies. The most traditional empanadas are made of tuna, but there is a large variety of fillings available, from pork to shrimp to eggplant to whatever is leftover from last night's dinner.

Every village in Galicia has its own empanada version and you can literally find dozens if not hundreds of recipes online. There is such a cult of the empanada gallega that there are several websites purely dedicated to them. The recipe I used comes from one such website, this one located in La Coruña in the northern part of Galicia.

I was very surprised at how well my empanadas turned out. The recipe was somewhat laborious but pretty simple, the empanada dough was a pleasure to work with – really, the easiest dough I've ever handled. I think the results were both beautiful and tasty.

The one change I would make is increase the salt in the dough. It currently calls for 1 teaspoon, but perhaps teaspoons are larger in Spain. Next time I'll use 1 1/2 teaspoons or even 2. As it was, the dough lacked flavor. I sort of eyeballed the quantities of the filling ingredients, but it worked out quite well. I also used jarred red bell peppers instead of fresh as I only realized I needed them when I watched the video attached to the original recipe. Finally, my one substantial change was to brown the beef before adding it to the sofrito, that was it had a chance of caramelizing a little bit and releasing some juices.

This recipe is to make one giant empanada - if you have a 16" pizza pan this is the time to take it out. However, I decided to make two smaller empanadas, both to have them fit on my baking sheets and to have one with a filling my kids would like better.

Note: when reading the recipe you may be appalled at the amount of oil used for the filling. Don't worry, the seasoned oil is "recycled" into the empanada dough.

Empanada Gallega de carne

Empanada Gallega de carne


    For the filling

  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs beef, diced
  • salt and white pepper and paprika to taste
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped or 1/2 cup drained sliced red bell peppers from a jar
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2/3 cup wine, broth or water

    For the dough

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp bread yeast
  • 1 tsp salt (2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3/4 cup oil (from the filling)
  • 3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. water

    For the empanda

  • 1 egg, beaten


For the filling

Season the diced beef with salt, white pepper and paprika.

Heat 3 Tbsp. Olive oil over medium-high heat. Add diced beef and brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Decrease temperature to medium. Add the onion, peppers, parsley and garlic to the pan. Pour sunflower oil and remaining olive oil over the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions start to get soft. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped tomato and the wine. Continue cooking until the onions are transparent. Add the beef and any juices remaining on its plate and cook until the beef is cooked through.

Let beef cool a little and then strain into a bowl, reserving both the beef and the liquid. Transfer liquid into a small pan and boil off until only oil remains. Wait until it cools slightly and measure ¾ cup to use in the dough.

For the dough

Place flour in a bowl and make a whole in the center. Add the yeast, salt and paprika. Add 1/4 cup of the oil reserved from the filling. If you don't have enough left, top off with sunflower or regular oil. Add the water. Using a wooden spoon mix until all the ingredients are combined. Using your hands or an electric mixer with a bread attachment, knead the dough until it becomes smooth, elastic and not sticky. Place in a bowl and let rise for 1/2 hour.

For the empanada

Preheat oven to 400F. Cover one or two large baking or pizza pans with parchment paper.

Divide the dough in two (or in four, if you are planning to make 2 empanadas). On a flour surface, use a rolling pin to roll each one in a square or round shape 2 mm thick. Use a knife to cut uneven ends. Transfer to baking pan. Repeat with remaining dough, making sure that the tops match the bottoms on size and shape. Use leftover dough to make shapes with which to decorate the pie.

Place filling on the bottom crust, leaving some space at the margins. Cover with upper crust. Cut off any uneven edges. Cute a hole about 2 cm in diameter on the center of the pie. Brush pie with beaten egg. Top with prepared decorations. Fold edges to seal the pie. Cut slits on top dough.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the top crust is golden.

Adapted from a recipe at La Empanada Gallega.

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