All the recipes for Christmas dinner dishes tend to ignore two things: most people like tradition best at Christmas and leftovers are actually the star of the show. Cold cuts, roast veg dunked into gravy as you pass the fridge, slivers of cheese because you can. That’s where the good stuff happens.
So if I told you there was a way to make leftovers even better for Boxing Day whether your day involves a long walk somewhere or a box set on the sofa, I doubt you’d say no. I take those leftovers and wrap them in an easy hot water crust pastry and make pasties and you can too with a minimum of fuss.
Hot water crust pastry doesn’t need special handling or resting so it’s quick and easy*. It can made with lard to be light and melting or made creamy and vegetarian-friendly with butter. You can fill it with anything. I used turkey and ham, but those roast veg or Stilton and stuffing would be great. Don’t forget to bathe it all with cranberry sauce or mustard or the gravy for perfection.
* To prove how easy these are, I made them in real time which took about 45 minutes from scratch and after I’d drunk a half a bottle of wine. That’s why they were delicious but not exactly the neatest crimping you’ll ever see.
Christmas Leftover Pasties (makes 6 large)
- 50g butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 325g plain flour
- 75g lard or butter
- 90ml water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 350g -500g filling such as turkey or ham or stuffing
- 1 egg, beaten
Preheat your oven to 180℃ and turn your attention to your pastry. Put the cubes of butter in a large bowl along with the flour and either using your fingers or a potato masher, combine until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
While you are making the breadcrumb mixture, put the lard or extra butter in a saucepan with the water and salt and bring to the boil so the fat is completely melted.
As soon as the fat and water boils, take it off the heat and add the breadcrumbs, using a table knife to bring it together and then your hands when it’s cool enough. It will combine to make a pliable dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl easily. Add a teaspoon or so more hot water if you have too many crumbs at the bottom of the bowl.
Leave the pastry in one big piece to cool for about 5 minutes to allow it to rest and the gluten to stretch but you don’t want it to get cold or it won’t be easy to handle. Use this time to prep your filling(s).
Meat should be shredded not chopped I discovered, while roast vegetables will need chopped up smaller and cheese is easier if crumbled. Use your imagination and make each pastie the same or totally different depending how you feel.
Cut the cooled pastry into six pieces and leave the other five covered with a clean teatowel. Flour your work surface well and roll the pastry out into a circle as best you can. Neaten it up with a glass or cutter if the edges are really ragged and fill the middle with about 3 tablespoons of filling and then bring the sides up to meet in the middle on the top.
Use a little beaten egg to help stick the pastry together and crimp with your finger and thumbs to seal the pasties completely. Place on a lined baking tray and brush all the exposed pastry well with beaten egg. Repeat with each piece of pastry. If the last two are too cool to handle well, give them 30 seconds in the microwave before rolling to liven them up again.
Brush the pasties again with egg and then bake for 25 minutes in the oven. Remember you are just warming the filling rather than cooking it from scratch. Eat straight from the oven or allow to cool if you prefer. They will keep overnight if needs be but refrigerate them once cooled. Eat using one of the many jars of farmers market condiments you got for Christmas on the side.