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Ham and Leek Empanadas

Empanadas fall into one of the best categories in the universe : Carbs stuffed with deliciousness. Usually cheese, meat, and whatever else your hungry little heart desires.

A few years ago when I visited Annica in Argentina, we ate a lot of Empanadas. Some were filled with steak, peppers, and cheese…others with cheese and green olives, ham and pineapple, beef and raisins…there were a lot of great combos. 

I hope to touch more on Argentinian cuisine here in the future, because it is all so good and was easily one of the best parts of my trip down there. Let me reminisce some more and share some of the photos I took back in 2010 (Warning, they are cell phone pics from 2010, aka crappy):

Empanadas in Argentina

The pictures, obviously, do not do these babies justice. They were all incredible. I wish I remembered all of the fillings…The ones below were my favorite, instead of being completely wrapped in dough they were like little mini pies. A totally amazing hangover cure…I mean what?

Empanada delivery in Argentina

I was excited to see an “empanada” recipe from Ina, with an awesome filling of leeks, ham, spinach, cheese and basil. While puff pastry is not how they do it in Argentina, it’ll do to satisfy a good empanada craving.

Empanadas

Recipe
Ham and Leek Empanadas
adapted from Make it Ahead
Makes about 8 Empanadas

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups small diced leeks. white and light green parts.
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • 4 ounces (1/4 inch diced) smoked ham
  • 4 ounces grated gruyere cheese (I used a mixed Italian blend)
  • 2 ounces fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tbsp julienned fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • flour
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted (1 package)
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp milk, for egg wash

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

Melt the butter oven medium-low heat in a medium saute pan. Add the leeks and saute for 4 minutes, until tender but not browned. Stir in the creme fraiche and simmer for a minute.

Combine the ham and Gruyere in a medium bowl. Add the leek mixture, then the spinach, basil, Parmesan, 1 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Mix and set aside.

Sprinkle a cutting board with flour, roll out one sheet of pastry to an 11×11 inch square, and cut it into 4 equal squares. Brush the edge of each square with the egg wash and place 1/3 cup of the filling in the middle. Fold the square diagonally to make a triangle, lining up the edges of the pastry. Place the triangles on the prepared sheet pans and press the edges with the tines of a fork to seal. Brush the triangles with the egg wash and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and serve hot.

Note: You may have a little extra filling. I saved ours and later smothered it on flatbread and threw it under the broiler for a few minutes. You could also spread the extra between sliced bread and make a panini/grilled cheese with it. I found all the filling wasn’t enough for 3 sheets of puff pastry, which is what Ina suggests.

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