Chicken empanadas

Traditional Argentinian pastry stuffed with hot chicken and sweet onions

According to Argentine custom, empanadas are served at parties, or as a prelude to a celebratory feast. There won’t be much cause for celebration on the streets of Buenos Aires if, as most people expect, Argentina’s slightly beleaguered football team get knocked out of the World Cup by France tomorrow, but there could still be some joy to be found in a parcel of pastry packed with hot chicken and sweet onions.

Coming from a country well accustomed to exiting football tournaments early, and having our own empanada equivalent in the meat pie or Cornish pasty, we fully understand that a mouthful of chicken-in-pastry won’t make the pain go away, but it might help dull it momentarily. With pastry that’s handmade fresh each morning, chicken locally sourced from ethical famers, and a bottle of chilled Quilmes beer added to the mix, you’ve a consolation prize that, while not quite making up for an 18-carat gold trophy, certainly helps just a little.

“We add olives, peppers and onions,” says Mijal, manager of Porteña—Borough Market’s much-loved purveyor of empanadas. “It’s one of the most traditional fillings in Argentina.” Though some Argentinians deep fry these pastries to create something more akin to a croquette than a pastry, the empanadas you’ll find at Porteña are oven-baked, crisply flaky, and remarkably light.

That fateful match
“They are even better with chimichurri sauce,” we’re told: a unique blend of herbs, chilli, oil and vinegar, which you’ll find in a small bowl on the side at the stall. The beer is in the fridge behind. You don’t necessarily need it—but you might well want it, as whatever the score, the temperatures this weekend are set to be at least as high as the emotions heading skywards at that fateful match.