So I was paging through Delicious by Sophie Gray trying to find something nice but cheap to make that I hadn’t made a million times before. I saw a bunch of things but I did notice that her recipes for empanadas and samosas were quite similar – unsurprisingly I suppose, since they’re both basically “pastry stuffed with a potato-heavy filling”. Neither of them were quite what I wanted but I thought they’d be quite nice if I put them together so I did and here you are.
A Sidebar on Indexing
If you are a publisher of cookbooks, or think you might be one day, can I address you for a moment? When indexing your cookbook, you of course should index by both title and main ingredient. Delightful. However, can I suggest that when you index by title, you also index by what the food actually is? When I am looking for samosas, it is going to take me a very long time to figure out that they’re actually under “c” – for “crispy baked samosas”. Ditto empanadas – under “s” for “savoury sausage empanadas” – and Irish stew – under “slow-cooked Irish stew” (this was particularly difficult to find because while samosas were under potato, and empanadas were under sausage, I actually had no idea the key ingredient of Irish stew was lamb).
Adapted from Sophie Gray
Serves four or five depending on how hungry everyone is. Although Sophie thinks they serve six.
Four or five small-ish potatoes, peeled and diced
200g mince (or three good sausages, with the sausage meat removed from the casings)
One large onion, diced or sliced
A little olive oil
1 cup frozen peas, as-is, or cooked fresh or dried peas
A heaped teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala
Half a teaspoon of paprika
1 t salt
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, and drain.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions until translucent. NOTE: I used powdered spices, but if you’re going to use whole coriander and cumin seeds, add them to the heated oil before the onions.
3. Add the mince and fry gently until brown but not dry.
4. Add the potatoes, spices, and peas to the mince and crush it all together with a fork. No need to overcrush or mash or whatever, don’t get fancy. (I mean, you can if you want to, but.)
5. While it cools enough to handle, make the pastry. Sorry, I took a million photos of the boring cooking bit and none of the slightly more tricky pastry bit, but I’m pretty sure you all know how to do this anyway.
6. Rub the butter into the flour, or use a food processor or pastry blender until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
7. Slowly add just enough water to form a soft dough.
8. Roll the pastry out, quite thinly, on a floured surface. You’re going to want to do this in a couple of batches and I needed a really quite floury surface, but I possibly over-watered it. (Mine was excellent though, so maybe you want that.)
9. You have some options when it comes to rolling your pastry out. You can either roll out one big sheet or a couple of big sheets and use a plate to cut out circles, or you can divide your pastry into eight to twelve evenly-sized lumps and roll them out into circles by hand. I did a bit of both and I can’t say I thought either came out differently, although I am a pretty crap circle-roller so that affected some things. The size of the plate for the first method doesn’t really matter. Sophie said a bread and butter plate (actually she said 19cm in diameter) but I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use a saucer and have wee ones, or a dinner plate and have as-big-as-your-head ones.
10. As you roll them (trust me, you do not want to stack these up and then try to peel them off each other), place the circles on a greased baking tray. Brush the edge of one semicircle with a little water, then pile a good wodge of filling on that semicircle, leaving the edge clear. Lift the other side up and over the filling, pressing the edges together – I crimped most of them the way I would crimp dumplings, but I have to admit that the ones that I simply pressed down on using a fork looked nicer. You could also do the fancy Cornish pasty twist if you know it.
11. When everything is all packed up (you might have extra filling or dough, I just managed it by making one pastry super-sized) and laid out on greased baking trays, bake for 25 minutes or until they go a little brown and crispy. I didn’t egg wash these because she didn’t call for it, but I would if I did it again – make ‘em nice and brown. Milk would do the same trick if you don’t want to waste a whole egg.
12. Serve hot with a salad.
You don’t get a picture of the insides because I had run out of turmeric and so my filling looked, to be honest, like grey wet washing, but with turmeric yours will look beautiful, I bet. These are great for lunch the next day, too (although the pastry, unsurprisingly but regretfully, did not stay crisp after spending the night in the fridge & being heated in the microwave). I did not try this, but I imagine that you could freeze these uncooked and bake to defrost, or nearly-cook them and freeze them and bake to reheat. Plus, this filling is very accommodating – you could go all cornish pasty and do it with carrots and swedes, leave out the meat (although then they’re basically samosas), use different spices, whatever, you do you, to steal a line from Autostraddle.