April 8 recognizes the food holiday, National Empanada Day. Empanadas are a stuffed bread or pastry that is baked or fried. The name empanada comes from the Galician, Portuguese and Spanish verb em pandar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread.
Empanadas are made by folding the dough or bread around a seasoned stuffing. The filling usually is made from meat, cheese, vegetables or fruits but may be made with other ingredients.
A cookbook published in 1520 in Catalan, the Libre del Coch by Ruperto de Nola, mentions empanadas filled with seafood.
In the Southern and Southwestern United States, empanadas are called Creoles. They are a half-circle flaky crust filled with seasoned pork, beef or chicken and cheese. In the Southeastern United States, empanadas are referred to as a “fried pie” and are a pastry filled with fresh or reconstituted dry fruit such as apples, apricots, peaches or sweet potatoes and then fried. In New Mexico, it is a winter tradition to make sweetmeat empanadas for Christmas. They are made with ground pork, sugar, pinon nuts, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, sealed in a tortilla-like dough and then deep fried in lard.
- The Spanish word for bread is “pan”. “Empanar” is a verb form that means “to bread”. Empanada is the past-participle, “breaded”.
- It’s basically a single-serving turnover. It can be filled with sweet foods like fruits, sugars, and syrups, or savory foods like meats, cheeses, and oils.
- They originated in northwest Spain, in a region known as Galicia.
- Today they are most popular in Spanish-speaking countries across Europe and South America.
- Originally they were made with bread dough, but now they are made with pastries as well.