WILD MUSHROOM EMPANADILLAS
Crescent-shaped fried pasties, or empanadillas, were by no means new in Altamiras’s time. Expensive sugared almond and pig’s trotters empanadas, sometimes large-scale affairs, dated back to medieval centuries, but Altamiras reworked the idea to come up with a leanday olive-oil pastry wrapped around thistle mushrooms and a hazelnut sauce. Today, when foraged wild mushrooms are luxuries, you will need to choose between an expensive precise recreation and an improvised 21st-century version close to the book’s spirit. Fresh field mushrooms work well, especially if you bump up the flavour with a stock made from the mushroom’s stems, skins and some dried mushrooms. Don’t skip the hazelnut paste as it adds flavour, a creamy texture and seals the pastry from the mushroom’s cooking liquid. Cooks in Spain generally make empanadas with ready-made, thinly rolled dough discs, bought from grocers or supermarkets in sealed packages, but you can also prepare Altamiras’s home-made crumbly, tender olive-oil dough or a thicker baking dough with which you make a Latin empanadilla. Cooking time will be longer, but fat levels are lower. Finally, this is one of the best of New Art’s dishes to serve with fine wines, its fungal flavours matched with old-vine Garnachas and Grenaches, chilled Spanish whites like Txacoli, Albariño and Rueda, and Jerez’s oxidized, nutty palo cortados and full-bodied generosos.