Spanish Fusion Empanada
We’re gearing up for Spring Break, so this week I am totally relying on quick and healthy recipes that taste amazing, like this Moroccan-spiced Spanish-style Empanada. Empanadas are found all over Spain, especially in the northwest part of the country where they are known as Empanada Gallega. They can be stuffed with pork, chorizo, peppers and even fish. This is not quite the same as those tiny meat pies that are often found on Tapas menus around the United States. We actually call those Empanadillas, which literally translates to little Empanadas. The crust on Empanadillas is typically a little thinner and less flaky since they are traditionally fried, whereas an Empanada is baked in the oven very much like a chicken pot pie (but totally different and better).
Moroccan Spiced Goodness
Empanadas come in every shape and size from round to square to rectangle. And because they are delicious at room temperature, they also make for perfect picnic and potluck fare. I have many fond memories of my mom bringing an Empanada along on road trips. She makes her traditional Empanada with shredded chicken, olives, red peppers and onions, and the buttery, flaky made-from-scratch crust is finger-licking good. For my short cut version, I use leftover ground up rotisserie chicken, which I always keep on hand in the freezer for a quick meal, and store bought rolled up pie crust. It’s not quite as decadent as homemade crust, but the addition of Moroccan-style spices like cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, cilantro and saffron, totally make up for it. And best of all it’s actually pretty good for you!
Let the Good Times Roll
Rolled pie crust comes in packs of two. I only use one for this recipe, which yields a pie perfectly sized for our family of four, but you can easily double the recipe and use one pie crust for the base and the other for the top. I freeze the one I don’t use and save it for my exquisite Baked Bourbon Brie with Walnuts and Brown Sugar.
Pie Crust Made Simple
I love the simplicity of these flaky rolled up pie crusts. You just unroll and go! Since I am using one crust for both my pie base and topping, I have to divide the dough into two unequal portions. The base should be about 2/3 of the crust and the top about 1/3 of the size.
Suggested Wine Pairings
I typically like big, bold wines with heavily spiced foods, but the delicate chicken and buttery, flaky crust call for a light to medium-bodied wine with moderate to high acidity. If you prefer white wines, look for a crisp one like a dry Riesling, Chenin Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc. The spices will bring out some of the fruit in the wine. Red wine lovers should look for a spicy Syrah, Syrah-based blend or a Pinot Noir. For an unexpected pairing, try it with a fruit-forward Zinfandel. The sweet spices in the dish actually bring out the spices in the wine and tame the rush of dark red fruit that is common in many California Zins. It’s one of the many qualities I love about them!