Not only do we have a tendency to over-eat during the festive season, we can also be very ambitious when it comes to preparing for the Christmas dinner / lunch. There are so many elements to take care of, the roast, potatoes, side vegetables, desserts, to name a few; which is why we have decided to opt for these crab and leek empanadas for starter - they can easily be prepared in advance, served hot or cold, giving you time to even mingle with friends and family before worrying about the rest! We have chosen crab as it is light, saving some space for the main and desserts that are yet to come. Be sure to make extra portions, these pair so well with beers and wines as you sip them during board games!
For the pastry
450g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
125g unsalted butter, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
5 tbsp water
For the filling
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 leek, about 150g, thinly sliced
1 tbsp rum (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
45g fresh white breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 lemon, zest only
A large handful of chives, chopped
For the egg wash
1 egg, beaten
1. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Add and rub butter into the flour mixture using fingertips only until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add beaten egg, and use a rounded tip table knife to mix, then add 5 tbsp of water. Continue to mix with the knife until the dough comes together into a soft dough ( you may need more water). Roll the dough into a ball and wrap well in cling film. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
2. Heat butter in a frying pan. When hot, sprinkle smoked paprika, wait for a couple of seconds then add leeks. Cook for 5 minutes, add rum and season with salt and pepper to taste, then cook for a further 10 minutes or until the liquid has mostly evaporated. Set aside to let cook completely.
3. Once the leek has cooled, mix with crab meat, breadcrumbs, egg, lemon zest and chives. Mix well.
4. Roll the dough out to about 3mm thick, then using pastry cutters, cut out ten to twelve rounds of 12 - 14cm diameters. Put a heaped tablespoonful of filling on to one half of each pastry round, then brush the edges of each pastry round with egg wash, then fold the empty pastry half over. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal properly.
5. Deep fry or shallow fry the empanadas in hot oil until golden brown in colour. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen towel to remove any excess oil. Serve hot.