Empanada Gallega (Galician Chicken and Pepper Pie) Recipe

Empanada Gallega (Galician Chicken and Pepper Pie)

This recipe uses chicken, smoked ham and chorizos (optional), onions, green and red peppers, peas and black olives. A favorite recipe from Galicia, the Northwestern corner of Spain.

The name Empanada comes from the Spanish verb empanar, which means to wrap or coat in bread. Chicken leftovers are ideal for this dish. Don’t be intimidated making your own dough. Once you have mastered it you will use it with all sorts of fillings.

We prepare this dish in three parts: first the pastry, then the filling and finally the most tricky part, putting the filling in the pastry, which is then baked.

Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Time: 60 minutes



  • 1 1/4 cup (150 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp cold butter or margarine cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) cottage cheese
  • egg wash, 1 egg slightly beaten with 2 Tbsp of water


  • 2 1/2 cups (375 g) cooked chicken, skinless, diced or shredded
  • 4 oz (115 g) smoked ham like Serrano or Prosciutto, slivered and Spanish Chorizo/Pepperoni, sliced into rounds
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) onions, diced
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) green peppers, diced
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) red peppers, diced
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced (you may use canned tomatoes, just drain them well)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup (75 g) green peas, if frozen, thawed
  • 10-12 black, oil-cured olives, pitted


We start with the dough. Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter or margarine in and mix it until it resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the cottage cheese until the dough forms a moist ball. You can use the food processor for it if you wish. Put the dough in the fridge while preparing the filling.

To prepare the filling we heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onions and garlic until soft. Add the red and green peppers and sauté for a further 5 minutes. Add the peeled tomatoes, the thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper and sauté for another 10 minutes or until the juices have thickened. Set aside to cool. Add the cooked chicken, the smoked ham or sliced chorizos (optional), and the thawed green peas. Check again for salt and pepper. Add the black olives and mix everything. You should now have a smooth filling with a nice consistency, not too liquid and not too dry. If it is too dry just add a little bit of water. Let it cool off to room temperature.

Now comes the most tricky part, putting the filling in the pastry: Take the dough out of the fridge and cut it in half. On a lightly floured surface roll out 1/2 of the dough with a floured rolling pin to the size of a dinner plate – about 12 inches (25 cm) in diameter. This will be the top part. The bottom part, using the remaining half of the dough, will be about 2 inches (5 cm) wider as we need to fold it over the edges of the top.

Place the bottom circle of the pie over a lightly oiled cooking sheet. Spoon the filling (at room temperature or slightly cold) over the bottom part of the dough but leave 1 inch (2,5 cm) of the edge uncovered. Brush this edge with the egg wash. Place the top part of the dough on top of the filling. Fold the edge of the bottom dough over the edge of the top dough. Seal the edges using a fork to crimp them.

You can keep the pie with the filling in the fridge until the next day or use it right away.

Just before baking don’t forget to brush the top with the egg wash. Cut 4-5 small vents into the top with a knife, otherwise, the empanada will look like Popocatepetl, the Mexican volcano – it will burst. The vents will allow the steam to escape.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and bake the Empanada for 25-30 minutes until the bottom is lightly browned and the top is deep golden brown. Make sure that the bottom is browned or it will be soggy. Lift up the edges of the bottom with a spatula and take a peek.

Let the pie cool for about 10 minutes. Then run a spatula under the pie starting from the edges to loosen it from the baking sheet. Carefully slide it over a serving board. Cut it into wedges and serve it warm with a green salad.

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