Feliz día de Reyes! Happy Epiphany day! Today is technically the last day of the Puerto Rican holiday season. My family is gathering at my sister’s place to celebrate. This year we are forgoing the traditional Christmas menu of roast pork, rice with pigeon peas, and guineos en escabeche, so I dropped by my friendly neighborhood lechonera yesterday to pick up the “last” bit of lechón and morcillas, also known as blood sausage or black pudding.
Morcillas are sausages made with pork fat and blood, cooked rice, garlic, orégano, recao, and spicy peppers or hot sauce. The tradition of making these of sausages came to the island through Spain, specifically the city of Burgos. Morcilla is especially popular around Christmas time. In order to prepare the whole-roasted porks so popular during the holidays, the innards are removed from the pig and the blood is drained out. Nothing goes to waste! All the ingredients for the morcilla are cooked until the mixture reaches 180F˚. The mixture is stuffed into the thoroughly cleaned intestines or synthetic casings. While it can be enjoyed ‘as is’, they are especially good when the casings are crisped in a skillet or a grill.
During our honeymoon in Argentina, I tried my first morcilla empanada. Azafrán, a restaurant in Mendoza, offered a fantastic trio of empanadas: sausage with caramelized onion, sweetbreads with mushrooms, and blood sausage with Parmesan cheese. Eduardo quickly grabbed the chorizo one, leaving me to enjoy the other two “weirder” ones. He had no qualms about wolfing down two of these pastelillos I made yesterday, thankfully!
Thanks to the widespread availability of empanada/pastelillo dough rounds, making these tasty snacks was a cinch. If you cannot find them at the regular or Latin market, this would be a good recipe to try.
GF360˚ Pastelillos de Morcilla
- 1 pound cooked morcilla (whole links/unsliced)
- 1 package 6″ empanada/pastelillo rounds
- vegetable oil for frying
Remove the morcilla from its casing and place it on a bowl. Mash it with a fork to make it easier to spoon.
Moisten the pre-cut dough around the edges.
Spoon the about two large tablespoons of the morcilla on one side of the empanada dough, carefully leaving room to seal it.
Fold over the dough from the other side, pressing it around the filling. Get the edges of the dough to touch.
Press a fork all through the edges to seal the dough. When done with the first side, flip the empanada and repeat this step.
Fry the pastelillos in a few inches of vegetable or canola oil until golden brown. Drain in paper towels and wait until they cool off a little before biting in.
As with most frituras, any un-fried leftovers can be frozen and fried later without any major problems. We have four of these pastelillos in the freezer, waiting until the next morcilla craving hits us.