For many people in England, today will be the day they wake, after a weekend of debauchery, to survey the wasteland of their wild actions and impulsive behavior. The August Bank Holiday, home to the Notting Hill Carnival, Reading and Leeds festivals, amongst others, is a traditional weekend to do things one regrets.
However, if you are middle-aged, married, and even worse, have kids, the likelihood is that you are surveying the gnawed and tatty remains of a large roasted animal limb, after having the in-laws over, while wondering what on earth to do with the leftovers. In this warm, sunny weather it feels sensible to make something which can be used for a picnic, before the weather reverts to its normal, hideous cold.
Puff pastry is the solution to many culinary problems, so when I was faced with an enormous amount of leftover lamb leg meat, a couple of roast potatoes and some fine home-grown and home-made mint sauce -it made sense to wrap the whole lot up in small D-shaped parcels and cook them until golden brown. Although this is England, and we have the world famous Cornish Pasty, I decided to give these pasty-like creations a more exotic name -inspired by the empanada. Partly because there are very strict rules governing Cornish Pasties, which my little pies would not meet, and also because “Lambpanada” sounds more fun.
Delicious eaten straight away while hot, or cold as part of a picnic (don’t reheat them, as the meat has been cooked twice -to be sure of no Bank Holiday regrets)
The quantities for this recipe depend really on how much lamb meat you have left on your joint. Cut the meat into small cubes and trim away all the skin and fat. Use the choicest pieces and freeze any ropy looking bits for another, less classy recipe. One packet of ready rolled puff pastry will make six lambpanadas -so these quantities will make the filling for six. If you want more or less, as the Americans say: “Do the Math”.
100g roasted lamb meat, trimmed of fat cut into small cubes (slightly smaller than a sugar cube). Leg is best
3 leftover roast potatoes, mashed
2 carrots, peeled and cut into dice
2 handfuls frozen peas, left to defrost
1 crushed garlic clove
1/2 a large Spanish (or other mild) onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 egg, beaten
Mint sauce, made from a small bunch of chopped fresh mint leaves (preferably the non-hairy kind -spearmint if you have it), mixed with a little salt and 1 tablespoon of caster sugar, and then steeped in about 100ml boiling water. When the water is cool, add 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar. If you made mint sauce for the roast, use that -but please don’t use mint jelly. This is easy enough to make and you need the acidity from the vinegar to temper the other flavours.
Put the lamb in a bowl with the garlic, rosemary and a good slug of mint sauce. Stir well and leave to sit.
In another bowl put the mashed potato, carrot, onion, peas and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and cover with another decent slosh of mint sauce. Stir it all together.
Using a cutter or bowl, 5 inches in diameter, cut out circles from the puff pastry sheet. Gather the pastry remnants , then roll them out again to the same thickness and cut more. You should get 6 in total.
Take a spoonful of the vegetable mixture and place it on one half of the pastry circle leaving about 1/2 inch gap from the edge. Top with 1/6 of the meat mixture and then season with salt and pepper. Fold the unfilled side of the circle over the filling and seal it. Use a fork to crimp the edges and make it look pretty. Brush the finished lambpanadas with beaten egg, then put them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Eat straight away, or leave to cool.