Galicia is a region in northwestern Spain where this empanada is a popular street food. Here, an empanada is not the hand-held food some of us are used to, but rather a baked pastry not unlike a calzone. I just got my first roasting pan last Christmas, so if you don’t have one…don’t be deterred! You can roast the chicken on a rack set on a rimmed baking sheet.
To speed up this recipe, you can use a store-bought rotisserie chicken and replace the dough with frozen puff pastry. When made the “long” way, the flavor of this dish is unparalleled, but the quick way is good, too!
Since this is a somewhat involved recipe, I would recommend reading it all the way through before starting. (I made a few mistakes the first time I made it because I didn’t do that!)
This recipe is adapted from Jose Andres’s Made in Spain.
Makes 1 large empanada
For the Filling:
1 small whole chicken (3 – 4 lbs)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 medium Spanish onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 bay leaves
½ cup dry white wine, such as Albariño
8 – 10 plum tomatoes (fresh or canned), cut into small dice
2 teaspoons pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
For the Dough:
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pimentón
½ cup water
1 large egg, beaten
Make the filling: Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
Rinse the chicken and remove any organs from the cavity. Pat the bird dry with paper towels, rub it all over with olive oil, and season it, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, breast-side down, on a rack set inside a roasting pan. Roast the chicken for 45 minutes; remove from the oven and let cool. (Don’t worry about it reaching a certain temperature; it’s going to get cooked again.) Remove all of the meat from the chicken, discarding the skin and bones. Shred the meat and set aside.
In a Dutch oven or large saucepan set over medium-low heat, heat ¼ cup of olive oil. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 30 minutes. Add the thyme and bay leaves, season to taste with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until the mixture turns golden, another 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it evaporates. Stir in tomatoes and pimentón, increase the heat to medium, and cook until almost all the liquid evaporates, 10 – 15 minutes. Add chicken, cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, discard the bay leaves, and season again with salt, if necessary.
Transfer the chicken mixture to a colander or fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl, and let cool. Reserve the liquid that strains off for making the dough.
Make the dough: Dissolves the yeast and sugar in ½ cup of warm water. In a food processor fitted with the dough blade, combine the flour, salt, and pimentón. With the motor running, add the yeast mixture and ½ cup of the reserved liquid strained from the filling. If necessary, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time until, the dough comes together into a slightly sticky ball. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees.
When ready to bake, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it gently to deflate it. Cut the dough ball into 2 equal halves. Dust the work surface with a little more flour and, using a rolling pin, roll the first piece of dough into an 11” x 9” rectangle. Lightly brush the back of a large rimmed baking sheet with some olive oil. Transfer the first rectangle of dough to the back of the baking sheet. Spoon the filling all over the dough, leaving a 1-inch edge. Brush the edge with the beaten egg. Roll the second piece of dough to an 11” x 9” rectangle and place it over the filling. Fold the dough edges together, crimping them with your fingers to seal. Brush the top of the empanada with the egg wash and prick the top with a fork to allow steam to escape.
Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.