The empanadas we enjoy today in the western hemisphere, probably originated in Galicia, Spain. In Galicia, empanadas are similar to a cut up pies filled with cod fish or chicken. However, the idea of wrapping a hardy filling in pastry dough may well have stemmed from the Moors who occupied Spain for hundreds of years.
Cubans fill their empanadas with seasoned ground beef or chicken and then fry them. Pastelitos are similar, but are made with lighter pastry dough and can be either baked or fried. It is acceptable to eat empanadas at any meal, but they are usually eaten during lunch or as a snack. In The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, empanadas are prepared and eaten the same way as Cuban empanadas. Catibías are made with cassava flour dough. Some of the common fillings are ground beef, chicken, guava and cheese.
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Audio file copyright 2006 Melissa Rodriguez. Used with permission.