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Elisabeth's Empanadillas de Atun

Elisabeth's Empanadillas de Atun

Empanadillas are hand-held pasties that are the individual version of the empanada, the magnificent pastries baked daily in big trays and sold by the piece in the bakeries of coastal Asturias. Both are the traditional midday break for the inshore fishermen who earn a living from the stormy waters of the Bay of Biscay. Recipes vary with some considering tomatoes essential, others include parsley and some argue the presence of onion precludes the inclusion of garlic. In neighbouring Cantabria, tuna might well be replaced with salmon from the region’s fast-flowing rivers.

Serves 6-8



The filling:

500g fresh or canned tuna

5-6 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 garlic cloves

1 large onion, finely sliced

2 large potatoes, peeled and diced

2 red peppers, de-seeded and diced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 glass white wine

1 hard boiled egg (optional)

Salt and crumbled dried chilli


The pastry:

275g (10 oz) self-raising flour

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine

150ml (1/4 pint) milk or water or a mix

1/2 teaspoon salt

Egg yolk and milk for gilding




Make the filling first. Flake the tuna and slice the egg, and reserve. Heat the oil in a roomy frying pan and add the garlic, onion, peppers and potato; season with thyme, salt and a pinch of chilli; and cook, loosely covered, over a low heat till the potato and onion is soft and golden (don’t let them brown). Add the wine, bubble up until the alcohol evaporates and then remove from the heat and fold in the tuna-flakes.

Now make the pastry. Toss the flour with the salt in a bowl and make a dip in the middle. Put the wine and milk or water into a small pan with the lard or oil and heat to blood temperature. Pour the warm liquid into the flour. Knead until you have a smooth and elastic dough (you may need a little more liquid or flour). Form it into a thin roll. Cut 18-20 slices off the roll and roll out each piece into a thin disk on a well-floured board with a floured rolling pin.

Put a teaspoon of the filling into the centre of each disk and pop a slice of egg on top. Wet the edges and fold one half over the other to enclose the filling. Mark the edges with a fork to seal. Transfer the pasties to an oiled baking sheet. Bake at gas mark 6/200C/400F for 10-15 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or cool, never straight from the fridge.