I am getting dangerously close to the jumbo breakfast roll. I know, I know. But trust me, this is a little more refined.
This month, I have planned to dedicate my time to sorting all my crap out – which is a lot of crap. I have had a brilliant time travelling post book writing etc., I definitely needed it after the intensity of the previous year. Lots happened in all areas of my life and I felt like I needed a breather. So I grabbed one.
Now, I want to be in London a little more. I want to finally sort out all of my stuff, and start my cooking classes and other things that have been in the pipeline for a while (there are still spaces for Thursdays bacon class by the way!).
So, if I haven’t lost you yet, yesterdays sorting out primarily consisted of me trying to change a light bulb. For ages. On my own. Productive, eh? I am rather short and the ceiling rather high.
It was beyond me for a while (I was a little sleepy after a reasonably late Saturday night), but I needed to do it as it was a shouty symbol of my disorganisation. That bulb blew a while back you see. So eventually, I dragged the dresser over, climbed on it and changed that bulb. I am my own DIY hero now (the bar was set very low for those surprised).
After all that exertion I was starving and deprived of any stimulation (do I have ADHD?). So, I started moving stuff around, disgruntedly, and found lots of photos of when I went to Argentina. I saw pictures of empanadas, had a very happy recollection of a lovely day, and that was it, attempts at organisation over. I had to make some.
Empanadas, for the few of you not aware, are small packages of glory. Blistered pastries filled with deliciousness. The classic Mendocino empanada – which is the best for me – is filled with beef, olives, eggs and other loveliness. For the very best, you need to cook them in a wood fired oven. We stopped at a random house in Mendoza and bought 8 from an old lady. I thought, EIGHT! How will I eat all those? I made quick work of them. They are still one of the best things I have ever eaten.
I asked lots of people for tips on making empanadas when I was in Argentina, particularly when I was in Mendoza. The top tip was lard. It absolutely has to be lard or pig butter I believe one called it (can’t we change the name to that?). Flour, baking powder, lard and salt with enough chilled water to bring it together. Some people use half butter / half lard, but I have some Iberico lard in the fridge (rendered fat from the delicious Spanish pata negra pig), and I decide to use only that.
Filling? Well I have no beef but I do have lovely black pudding (Irish of course), I have tomatoes, I have eggs, onions and a few other bits. I spy the makings of a rather delicious empanada, a little fusion born of an Irish lass inspired by a lovely trip to Argentina. It worked a treat.
Learn from me: try to plan a little in advance. I nearly drove myself crazy with hunger waiting, and ate half the filling before the empanada dough was fully chilled. Still delicious though, and that is the main thing.
Black Pudding, Bacon & Egg Empanadas
450g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (good sea salt)
125g Iberico lard (or normal lard, or butter, or half and half)
enough chilled water to bring it all together
2 eggs for sealing & glazing
350g black pudding
1 tin tomatoes
1 red onion, finely chopped
5 slices streaky bacon
small pinch of chilli flakes
handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
First of all make your pastry. I have warm hands so I use my mixer. When making pastry it is really important that you are as hands off as possibly. You really just want to bring it together and have the pastry figure out the rest. Chop the lard into small cubes and mix with the other ingredients until you get a breadcrumb texture. Then add your chilled water bit by bit until it holds its shape (without being too wet). Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour.
While this is refrigerating get on with the filling. Sauté the bacon (in its own fat) for a few minutes over a medium hear, then add the onion (there should be enough bacon fat but if there isn’t add a little oil), until soft. Then add the chopped black pudding and cook for a few minutes so you get a little crust. Then add the tomatoes and chilli and cook gently for 20 minutes or so. Allow to cool.
Boil the eggs for 6 minutes (by adding them to boiling water). Refresh under cold water, peel and dice.
Add the eggs and the parsley to the cooled black pudding mixture and stir gently. Leave to the side.
Preheat your oven to 180 deg C.
Roll the pastry thinly on a floured surface, and gently (don’t over roll – be as hands off as possible). Cut circles of pastry with a saucer (I prefer as small as possibly so actually used a little bowl
Fill each empanada with approximately a tablespoon of filling (depending on the size of your empanada) and brush the edges with some beaten egg. Bring the edges together and crimp with a fork. Pierce the empanadas with the fork so that air can escape while they cook.
Glaze the empanadas by brushing with beaten egg and bake for approx 12 – 15 minutes, until they are golden and crisp. Eat hot and enjoy!