The Chilean recipe
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An ‘empanada’ is a baked or fried turnover filled with various ingredients. It is one of the most widely used recipes in the world and is found in various cultures, where it takes different names with a variety of styles and flavours (samosa, gyoza, pirozhki, pasty). Although there are different recipes across the world, filled with meat of all kinds or with vegetables, its origins most likely go back to the Middle East.
The story goes that this recipe reached Spain in the Middle Ages via the Gibraltar Strait during the Muslim conquest, which lasted for eight centuries. In these countries they take the name of ‘empanadas’, as the meat is encased in pastry (‘empanar’ in Spanish). With the arrival of the Spanish in America, empanadas where then introduced across the continent and established roots, to the extent that they are now part of the culinary identity of various American countries, each with their own distinct character.
The arrival of the Spanish in Chile represented an intense process of growth and intermingling (‘mestizaje’) with indigenous cultures. The Mapuche (the main indigenous culture in central Chile) was the culture with which they had the most contact.
And thus the traditional ‘Empanada de Pino’ was born: a Chilean empanada drawing on two cultures, where the classic Spanish recipe joins forces with a Mapuche stew known as ‘Pino’ (derived from the Mapudungun word ‘pirru’). ‘Pino’ is a mixture of minced meat and onion, seasoned with spices such as merkén (smoked dehydrated chilli) and others introduced by the Spanish, such as cumin and oregano. A boiled egg, olives and raisins are also added to the recipe.
The pastry is made from wheat flour, butter and eggs, and is baked using a traditional method in a clay oven.
Today, the empanada is one of Chile’s main traditional dishes, and is a genuine symbol of national celebrations and Sunday meals with family. It has also found the perfect ally in wine, as the combination of the two is one of the most iconic and widespread in Chile. This association is deeply rooted in Chilean culture, which former President Salvador Allende even citing the ‘revolution flavoured with red wine and empanadas’ as one of the symbols of the rise of socialism during the 1970s.
To enjoy an ‘empanada de pino’ as it should be enjoyed, we recommend a glass of our Carménère Araucano 2017 (an iconic Chilean grape variety). A wine whose freshness, fruity notes and very special spicy character go perfectly with the flavours and filling of the empanada. Its soft tannic structure and lovely acidity also pair wonderfully with the heat and complexity of the empanada, cleansing and refreshing the palate.
– 1 kg finely diced meat
– 2 tbsp butter
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 3 chopped onions
– 1 tsp cumin
For the pastry:
– 6 cups flour
– 2 cups water (approx.)
– 1 tsp chilli powder
– 1 tsp oregano
– 1 tsp merkén
– 1 egg yolk
– Salt, pepper, hard boiled eggs, olives
– 2 tsp salt
– 2 tsp butter
Prepare the ‘pino’ the night before. Add the butter and a generous drizzle of olive oil to a large frying pan. Add chopped onion and begin to brown over a medium heat. Once the onions start to colour, season with the spices: cumin, chilli, oregano, merkén, salt and pepper. Keep chilled until the following day.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. For the pastry, boil salted water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and add the butter. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Mix the salted water and flour together by hand until you achieve a dough that is easy to handle. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Put the ‘pino’ in the freezer until a fine layer of ice forms on the surface, as this means that the juices will not be lost whilst assembling and cooking the empanadas.
Remove the pastry and ‘pino’ from the fridge and begin assembling the empanadas. Divide the dough into pieces the size of a tangerine, roll out to just a few millimetres thick, trim the edges, then put two tablespoons of ‘pino’ in one half, and add a piece of boiled egg and an olive. Raisins can be added as an option.
Moisten the edges with water and press together to create the empanada. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up. Brush with the egg yolk diluted in a little water (to bring out the colour). Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until they turn golden brown.
By Diego Vergara – Director of Hacienda Araucano