Friday feeling: chorizo empanadas

A melange of chilli-flecked vegetables and chunks of spicy chorizo encased in pastry

Some cultures do it with cake; others with a fatted calf. Argentina, however, marks get-togethers with chorizo: a sausage made with pork, fresh garlic, a touch of wine and pimentón (aka paprika). “Chorizo is typical in Argentina when it comes to barbecues and family reunions,” says Mijal, the manager of Porteña. Unlike in Spain where the word chorizo refers to a dried, cured sausage, the Argentina chorizo is juicily, fat-spurtingly fresh.

At Portena, you’ll find it in pastry. It’s the latest addition to their empanada range and has already proved immensely popular. “It is a mix of chorizo, sweet potato, chilli, salt and pepper. The sweet potato adds a nice contrast of texture,” Mijal continues. It also adds colour, its sunset orange both clashing with and complementing the sunburn-red of the chorizo, once you’ve bitten into the empanada’s piping hot centre to reveal a melange of soft, chilli-flecked vegetables and steaming chunks of meat.

Negligee, not buttery blanket
Though the shape of an empanada is reminiscent of a Cornish pasty, the pastry itself is papery and featherweight—more of a negligee than the buttery blanket of south-west England. The spicing, meanwhile, is warm enough to leave you sated without sending you dashing across the road to 3BIS for ice cream. Indeed, provided they were ignorant of the chilli and pimentón in the ingredients, this is the sort of snack you could share with that friend who ‘doesn’t like spicy food’.

It’s celebratory. Mijal recommends serving it with a glass of red wine—malbec if you’re going to keep it Argentinian, which we fully intend on doing. It’s a mark of just how richly flavoured the chorizo empanada is that it can stand up to this style of wine, with its plump fruits and smoky afternotes. The only danger is that both become very moreish.