Empanada de Vieiras

Herminda’s Corn Pie with Baby Scallops

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • 10

    Medias Raciones

Appears in

MoVida Rustica

By Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Published 2009

  • About

IT WAS VINTAGE TIME IN THE O SALNÉS VALLEY AND I WAS VISITING A FRIEND WHO MAKES ALBARIÑO IN THE LITTLE TOWN OF RIBADUMIA. THE HARVEST WAS WELL UNDERWAY AND HE WAS FLAT-OUT ORGANISING THE COLLECTION OF GRAPES FROM SCORES OF TINY VINEYARDS ACROSS THE VILLAGE, SOME NO BIGGER THAN A BACKYARD. I WAS INVITED FOR LUNCH WITH THE GRAPE PICKERS. THEY WERE ALREADY EATING FROM A RICKETY CARD TABLE SET UP UNDER THE VINES. THE YOUNG MEN WERE DRINKING VINO TINTO FROM CERAMIC BOWLS — HOME-MADE RED WINE THAT WAS THICK AND TANNIC. UNDER A CLOTH WAS WHAT THEY CALLED AN EMPANADA, BUT YOU AND I MIGHT CALL A SLICE OR PIE. IT WAS MADE WITH POLENTA AND STUFFED WITH TINY SCALLOPS AND A SOFRITO OF ONIONS AND GREEN CAPSICUMS (PEPPERS). IT WAS AMAZING. I ASKED HERMINDA, THE ELDERLY LADY WHO MADE THE CORN EMPANADA, FOR HER RECIPE. SHE LOOKED AT ME QUIZZICALLY, THEN REPLIED: IT IS EASY. FIRST YOU PLANT YOUR CORN, THEN YOU HARVEST IT, THEN YOU GRIND IT, MAKE A DOUGH, PUT IN THE FILLING, ADD SOME MORE WOOD TO THE OVEN AND COOK IT. SIMPLE.’ HERE IS A MODERN VERSION OF HER RECIPE. IN TRUE GALICIAN STYLE YOU COULD ALSO USE MARKET-FRESH CLAMS, PIPPIES, SARDINES OR PRAWNS (SHRIMP).

Ingredients

  • 80 ml ( fl oz/ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white part only, trimmed and halved lengthways, then thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 green capsicum (pepper), seeded and membranes removed, finely diced
  • 400 g (14 oz) scallops, diced
  • tablespoons real cornflour (cornstarch) (see glossary)
  • 300 ml (10½ fl oz) alboriño or other aromatic white wine
  • a small handful of chopped parsley
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Pastry

  • 130 g ( oz/ 1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 290 g (10¼ oz) extra-fine pre-cooked yellow polenta
  • 110 g (3 3/4 oz) coarse polenta
  • 10 g (¼ oz) dried yeast
  • 70 ml ( fl oz) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra, for brushing

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leek and sauté for 5 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Add the garlic, bay leaves, capsicum and a pinch of salt, then reduce the heat to low-medium and cook, stirring regularly, for 15 minutes, or until the capsicum is soft.

Stir in the scallop meat and cook for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the cornflour, stir together well and cook for 2–3 minutes. Increase the heat to high, pour in the wine and let it bubble for a few minutes, then add 300 ml (10½ fl oz) water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 40 minutes, or until you have a rich, thick ragù. Stir in the parsley, check seasoning, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, make the pastry. Bring 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) water just to the boil. Place all the dry ingredients and a pinch of salt in a large bowl, then add the olive oil and the just-boiled water and, using a wooden spoon, stir until a rough dough forms. The dough should be very dry and feel like it isn’t coming together, and some flour may remain unincorporated. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, then cover and leave to stand in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Lightly brush an 18 × 25 cm (7 × 10 inch) earthenware dish or baking tray with olive oil. Roll out half the pastry on a well-floured surface into a rectangle 2 mm (1/16 inch) thick, roughly the same size as the baking tray. The dough will break up as you roll it out, but don’t worry — it’s meant to be a rustic dough.

Lift up the dough, one piece at a time, and place on the baking tray, pressing together any holes to cover the base.

Spread the cooled filling over the pastry. Roll out the remaining pastry until 2 mm (1/16 inch) thick, then place it one piece at a time over the filling, in slightly overlapping layers. Press down gently with your fingers to press the dough onto the filling. Brush the top with the beaten egg and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and cracked like a parched riverbed. Serve warm or at room temperature.