Monday, May 16, 2016

Stuffed: From Empenadas To Pasties

Stuffed foods are always fun foods. How many times have we bit into a pasty and enjoyed the savory  middle.Or sunk our teeth into a Jamaican patty, relishing the mixture of spices and beef. They're a wonderful marriage of crusty shell with flavorful stuffing.

Meat and vegetable pastries are nothing new. They have been around since the 1200,s and were even given a Royal Charter from Henry III of England, The recipe was part of an early cookbook, LeViander while another cookbook from 1393 offered a recipe for meat pies or pastes stuffed with venison, veal, beef or mutton.Pasties are part of the Cornish culture in southwest England, where miners used to take them for their lunches as they descended into the surrounding tin mines. These mini meat pies are known for their flaky crusts, made of a short crust dough and delicious fillings of skirt steak  and lamb, using mixed with mashed potatoes and onions. There are also vegetable ones stuffed with swede or turnip along with potatoes or onions. It spawned the Jamaican beef patty when the English took over the island. There it got a redoing thanks to the inclusion of  cumin and curry along with the ultra fiery taste of the Scotch bonnet pepper. The crust, still in the traditional "D" shape color became a rich golden hue thanks to adding either egg yolk or turmeric.Jamaican home and professional chefs expanded the variety by including seafood such as lobster and shrimp along with pork and soy.

Latin and South Americans have their own version , the empenada first made in the Galacia region of northern Spain and Portugal around the time of the spice trade .The name comes from the Spanish word empanar to wrap or coat with bread.It is the Argentinians who elevated the recipe to a high art. The crust is a mix of wheat flour and beef drippings,similar to Yorkshire pudding while the fillings vary from province to province. Fillings range from typical such as chicken and beef to raisins, boiled eggs and olives. Some also have ham or sweet corn inside too and they can be either baked or fried..There are special ones for Lent and Easter filled with tuna and fish. The Arabs have something similar in fatayer.,Its' spinach and onion filling is spiked with cumin. Arab cuisine is also responsible for the Indian samosas. These delights were introduced to the Indian subcontinent around the 1300' to 1400s. from traders. They are also called shingaras in East India and are fried to a crunchy, golden crisp. Both pies are filled with peas,potatoes,onions and almonds along with chutney and yogurt.

Whether it's pastie or empenada or samosa,  a meat or vegetable pie s a great treat. Have it for a snack or as a light meal with a salad. They're flavorful and fun.

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