Empanadillas Gallegas

These handheld versions of empanada Gallega, the large savory pie from Galicia, Spain, are stuffed with tuna, hard-boiled eggs, and chopped olives.

Active Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Chill Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs

Chef Katie Button makes small hand-held versions, empanadillas, and mixes the filling with sofrito, an aromatic vegetable base of long-cooked tomatoes, onions, and garlic. She wraps it up in a pastry dough enriched with lard, which she says makes an incredibly flaky crust. Freezing the lard and then grating it allows you to easily incorporate it into the dough without it melting, and results in more flaky, puffy layers of pastry in each bite.


For the sofrito:

  • 1 ½ pounds medium-size ripe red tomatoes (any variety)

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or other neutral-flavored oil, or more if needed

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed

  • 2 cups finely chopped yellow onions

  • 2 tablespoons  finely chopped garlic

For the dough:

  • 1 ½ cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 large egg

  • ½ cup water

  • 2 ¼ ounces (65 gr) frozen lard, grated

For the filling and assembly:

  • 4 ounces canned tuna in olive oil (one 5-ounce can, drained)

  • 1 large hard-boiled egg, coarsely chopped

  • 5 pitted black olives, chopped

  • Kosher Salt

  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend


Make the sofrito:

  1. Cut tomatoes in half crosswise (not through core). Place a box grater in a large bowl. Grate tomatoes, cut side against the coarse side of the grater, until only skin remains; discard skin. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of grated tomatoes with juices.

  2. In a large skillet, heat grapeseed and olive oils over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, adding more oil if onions are sticking, about 15 minutes. Form a well in center of the onions. Add the garlic to well and cook, stirring often, until slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Mix garlic into onions.

  3. Add grated tomato and cook, stirring occasionally at first, then often during the last 15 minutes or so, until all the liquid has evaporated, mixture is reduced by 3/4 and is deeply red and caramelized, and you begin to see a separation of oil from the vegetables, 30 to 40 minutes. Add a splash of water to skillet to loosen any bits from the bottom of the pan and stir until evaporated. Let cool.

  4. Set 3 tablespoons sofrito aside for the empanadillas. Divide remaining 3/4 cup sofrito into smaller portions in freezer-safe containers or an ice cube tray. Refrigerate or freeze for later use.

Make the dough:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk flour and salt. Form a well in center of the dry ingredients and add water and egg. Whisk water and egg together, then, using one hand, gradually mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until it becomes a homogenous ball. Cover with a damp towel or piece of plastic wrap and let dough rest for 10 minutes.

  2. Roll dough into a rectangle about 12x8. Scatter lard in the middle of rectangle and fold both shorter sides over to encase lard like you are folding a letter. Roll dough out again to about 12x8 and repeat folding like a letter. Wrap dough and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

  3. Roll out dough to a 12 by 12-inch rectangle and cut out four 5-inch rounds. Gather remaining dough and knead together. Roll out and cut out 2 more rounds. Freeze rounds for at least 10 minutes before using.

Make the filling and assemble:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons sofrito, tuna, olives and egg; season to taste with salt and pepper.

  2. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pastry rounds on baking sheet and divide filling among pastry rounds. Fold each pastry round over and press with your fingertips to seal, then press again with the tines of a fork (you could freeze at this point for later). Arrange on baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Brush with egg wash. Bake empanadas until deep golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly before serving.

    Empanadillas Gallegas
    Whitney Anderson
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