Have you ever eaten a pie-sized empanada? I sure hadn't. My previous experience with the savory pastries consisted of individual hand-pies filled mostly with sweet ground beef and olives. But my perception of empanadas has totally shifted as of this week. Tucked into the tapas chapter of Jeff Koehler's new cookbook, Spain, is a recipe for a giant pie filled with slivers of paprika-marinated pork mixed with caramelized onions and peppers. Encasing the filling is a yeast dough, enriched with a couple of eggs and whole milk. Eaten at room temperature, the hearty tapa is served in generous slices, showcasing the ochre-colored filling.
Why I picked this recipe: Two words: giant empanada.
What worked: Despite its simplicity, the filling of pork, onions, red peppers, and paprika was full of character. The addition of a sprinkle of paprika to the easy-to-work dough was also welcome from an aesthetic perspective.
What didn't: I mistakenly made my empanada in a deep dish pie plate. (Do 10-inch pie plates that aren't deep dish exist in the US?) The result was mighty tasty but nowhere near as pretty as the picture. If you can find a wide, shallow pie pan, use it.
Suggested tweaks: I'd suggest rolling the dough even thinner than you may think necessary, since it will rise considerably in the oven. For a deep browning of the crust, be generous with your egg wash. Koehler suggests adding slices of hardboiled egg to the pie for more protein, if you'd like.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. She blogs at Cooking Wolves. Follow her @KateHWiliams.