Wine & Food Killers: Jackfruit Empanadas and Parajes del Valle Macabeo Maceración 2022

At most weddings, the food is barely worth remembering – but at this one, there were empanadas. Beef empanadas, cheese empanadas, all dressed in a deliriously spicy orange sauce. I remember them, but I can’t for the life of me remember how many I ate.

Ever since, I’ve thought about making them at home. Empanadas are made across Latin America from wheat flour, corn or even cassava; their fillings and styles and colours vary, they can be baked or fried, served hot or cold. In this way, the empanada feels less like a singular entity and more like a category, capacious enough for flights of fancy.

In this case, that fancy was a jackfruit filling, to stand in place of pulled chicken. Young green jackfruit is shredded and mixed into an aromatic base of onions, peppers, garlic and spices, cooked down until sticky and softened. And while many empanada pastries are made of simple hot water dough, I liked the look of Recipe Tin Eats’ dough, made pliable with lots of butter and an egg yolk. Even if you’re not inclined to make your own pastry, it’s worth doing so here: it comes together in moments in a food processor and rolls easily, without cracking. (That said, a classic hot water dough, as in this recipe, is a good option to make it vegan – just use vegetable lard or a vegan butter substitute.)

Pairing these with Parajes del Valle’s Macabeo Maceración worked even better than I’d hoped. This 100% Macabeo wine, more golden than orange, tastes like half-dried wedges of citrus fruits and almonds, full and elegant, with enough weight and structure to balance the empanadas. In turn, the empanadas seem to draw additional sweetness from it.

These empanadas, this pairing, might not exactly resemble what I enjoyed at that recent summer wedding. But they are no less memorable and, for now at least, have sated both my craving and my curiosity.

Jackfruit Empanadas
Loosely adapted from Recipe Tin Eats and Bon Appetit
Makes approximately 20 empanadas

For the dough:
400g all-purpose flour
175g chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
120ml whole milk (warmed in microwave for 30 seconds or gently warmed on the stove)
1 egg

For the filling:
300g young green jackfruit (drained, from 1 565g tin)
50ml olive oil
Two large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons tomato purée
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon cayenne
125g pitted green olives, diced
1 egg

1. First, make the dough. Add the flour, butter and salt to a food processor and pulse until the butter is incorporated and the mixture looks sandy. Meanwhile, separate an egg (reserving the white for later) and add the yolk directly to the warmed milk. Whisk and pour into the flour mixture. Process on low for roughly 10 seconds, or until the dough has just come together.

2. Remove the dough from the food processor. Transfer to a work surface that’s been lightly dusted with flour, and knead one or two times, or until smooth. Separate into two equal portions and shape each into a flattened disk; wrap tightly in clingfilm and transfer to the fridge to chill for 1 hour.

3. Next, prepare the filling. After draining the jackfruit tin, rinse to remove any extra brine. Transfer to a large bowl and shred (the shredded jackfruit will resemble pulled chicken).

4. Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and peppers. Cook, stirring frequently, for around 5 minutes, or until they have softened; season with salt and pepper to taste. Next, add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until it has lost its raw smell.

5. To the onion and pepper mixture, add the tomato purée and mix through; cook for several minutes until it has darkened in colour. Next, add all the spices and cook for 1 minute before transferring the shredded jackfruit to the pan. Top up with a good splash of water, mix through and turn the heat down to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the filling has thickened.

6. Add the green olives and mix through; taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Transfer the jackfruit filling to a baking tray (spread it thinly so it chills faster), and place in the freezer for 30 minutes, or until cold.

7. When you’re ready to bake your empanadas, preheat the oven to 220°C and line a large baking tray with baking paper. Remove one of the dough rounds from the fridge. Lightly flour your surface and rolling pin and then roll the dough evenly into a thin round (approximately 3mm thick). Using a 6-inch-wide bowl as your measure, cut even dough circles. Collect any offcuts and reroll until you use all the dough.

8. Next, make the empanadas. Add between 2–3 tablespoons of filling to the bottom half of each dough circle, arranging in a half-moon shape and leaving a half-inch margin around the edge. Using a pastry brush, dab the reserved egg white around that margin. Fold the dough over the filling and press lightly around the edges. You can seal the empanada by pressing on the outer edge with a fork, or via the traditional crimping method.

9. Make the remaining empanadas. In a separate small bowl, crack an egg and whisk until uniform; brush the egg wash generously over the tops of the empanadas. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden-brown. Transfer to a cooling rack.

10. While the first batch of empanadas bakes, repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Serve your empanadas while still warm, optionally with a hot sauce or coriander crema on the side, if you prefer.

Claire M Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beer hound and all-around lover of tasty things. You can follow her at @clairembullen. For more recipes like this, sign up to our Natural Wine Killers wine subscription - you'll receive Claire's recipe and food pairings plus expert tasting notes for three amazing wines like this one every month.