Jamaican Beef Patty

One of the very earliest recipes I did on the blog was one for meat pies that I make for my sister. (Don’t go back in the archives to look for it, I beg of you. My photography was abysmal in those days.) I started out with meat pies because for quite some time, I’ve had somewhat of a minor obsession with them, in just about any form. I don’t know why. Carbs and meat are perfectly fine all on their own. But for me, when you out them together they can get elevated to something even better.

The pretty cool thing about the meat pie is that practically EVERY cuisine, culture & region has their own rendition of it. In Latin American cuisine, they have empanadas. In Canada they have Tourtiere. In Lebanese cooking they’re called sfeeha. Back where I come from in Michigan they’re called pasties. In Louisiana they’re Natchitoches.

For so many different people in so many different places to all find a way to work the meat pie in their cuisines means that there’s really gotta be ‘something’ to it worth trying out at least once. And frankly, once you’ve had a delicious meat pie, you’re not just going to want to make it a one time deal. You’ll keep coming back for more whether you’re buying or making them–that’s my experience anyway.

I left one very important type of meat pie off the list above on purpose. Jamaican Beef Patty are the subject of today’s post and (if you can believe it) making these was the first time I’d ever even tasted them before. I know, right? And I call myself a foodie. But better late than ever. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad bit more pleased with my results than those I’ve seen in take out joints. I’ve had Caribbean food before, though not as often as now when we’re in the Bay area. But even at the occasions when I had it, beef patty was something that somehow always ended up getting left off the order. I’ll admit that may have been because when it comes to how I like MY meat pies, I can be tough to please.

For me, there are three components that you have to nail in order to make a good meat pie: first, the pie crust has to be buttery and flaky. No one wants to be chewing something that tastes like bland, dried up cardboard. Also, don’t be afraid to season the crust itself. Second, make sure there is enough moisture in the filling. I understand that we’re not making pot pie here, but it shouldn’t be dry as a bone on the inside either. Third, SEASONSEASONSEASOOOOOON that filling. I can’t tell you how disappointed I’ve been to try someone else’s meat pie (of several different kinds of cuisines) only to be disappointed because literally the only thing I can taste is browned, bland ground beef. Do better. Season with authority and make that filling pack an Ali-worthy punch.

Having said all of that, I can safely say that this recipe checks off all those boxes. The pie crust is not only flaky and buttery by using a combination of butter and shortening, there’s curry powder in the dough that not only gives it wonderful flavor, but a pleasant golden brown color when it’s finished baking. The filling is cooked with more than enough spices to be anything but bland. It’s obviously got a kick from the Scotch bonnet pepper, but it’s also got an aromatic, earthy beef flavor that only gets better the longer it sits–so, I do recommend you follow the instructions to refrigerate it overnight to allow the flavors in the filling to develop. You won’t regret it. Andand! The addition of Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce and beef broth also ensures that it won’t be too dry.

Try these guys. It’s a nice little project to do that will get you a lot of rave reviews. Linking it up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #183, co-hosted this week by Sarah @ Sarah’s Little Kitchen and Shinta @ Caramel Tinted Life.

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Jamaican Beef Patty

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

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Ingredients

For Dough

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1/2 cup butter flavored vegetable shortening, frozen
  • 3/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon cold water, plus more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

For Filling

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1-2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and finely minced
  • 1 1/4 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons steak sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout spice mix (or cumin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 egg, beaten

 

Directions

For Dough: In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and curry powder with a fork. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate butter directly into dry ingredients. Slice the shortening into small chunks and sprinkle into the flour. Mix together with a fork or a rubber spatula. (Mixture should resemble coarse bread crumbs, with chunks of butter/shortening throughout) Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the water, beaten egg and vinegar. Mix together until just combined, then turn out onto a cutting board or pastry mat dusted with flour. Working quickly, pat and press with your hands until you have a mass of dough that holds together. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at LEAST one hour, but preferably overnight.

For Filling: In a large skillet or Dutch oven, pour and heat the oil over medium heat. Brown the beef until no longer pink. Remove and drain the fat.  Don’t wipe out the skillet. Saute the onions until translucent, about 7 minutes, then add the pepper and garlic and cook until just fragrant, 1-2 minutes more. Add the beef back into the skillet, then Pour in the beef broth , sauces, spices, bay leaves and thyme leaves. Stir to combine, then allow to cook until most of the liquid has cooked off and evaporated, about 20 minutes. Taste & adjust for seasoning. Remove from heat and stir in the breadcrumbs. Refrigerate filling overnight to allow flavor to improve.

Preheat oven to 375°. Remove the  dough from the fridge and sprinkle a clean surface with flour. Roll dough out with  floured rolling pin to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 4-5 inch circles and place two heaping tablespoons of filling on each. Brush the bottom edge with water or egg wash, then pull the top edge over the filling and press down to fuse the two edges together. You may crimp the outer edges afterwards with a fork if you like. Repeat until you’ve used all of the dough, keeping unused rounds AND filled patties in the fridge as you work to keep the dough cold as possible.

Once finished, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil, and lightly spray with cooking spray. Place pies on pan. Brush the tops with the beaten egg, then bake on the middle rack until dough is cooked through & golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.

Ashley’s Meat Pies

Meat Pies1

I do most of the cooking in my house, and usually when I ask everyone what they would like for me to make, I don’t get too specific an answer.  Instead, I hear things like this:

“I don’t care,”

“It doesn’t matter to me.”

“Anything…just as long as it’s not chicken, I’m tired of chicken.”

See what I have to work with? (And for the record, it’s impossible for anyone to get tired of chicken. I certainly don’t- and therefore, it’s impossible).

But sometimes, I will get a very specific request to make something someone has a craving or hankering for. For my twin sister, Jasmine, it’s usually for baked spaghetti (she could eat that stuff every day). My mom really likes fried chicken. My older sister Ashley really likes these meat pies. Truth to be told, she’s been asking me to make her some of these for a long while now. The problem is, the last couple of times I made meat pies, I didn’t make them to her satisfaction. See, being the foodie that I am, I like to experiment with different flavor combinations and various fillings for savory pies. I’ve got dozens of recipes for pies and empanadas that I still have to try out: spicy Caribbean with curry powder and sweet potato, French Canadian with cinnamon and cloves, southwestern with salsa and corn…the possibilities are endless.

Meat Pies2

But Ashley doesn’t go for all that. She likes to keep her meat pies simple. And by simple, I mean that the only thing she likes in her meat pies is meat. Nothing else.  Yeah, I know. Weird.

Well, I’m a good sport and I generally like to give people what they want (where cooking is involved anyway), so I decided to put aside all of my great genius of  culinary creativity and make Ashley her meat pies the way that she wanted them. The only ‘challenge’ I saw with a recipe like this is making sure that even though the ingredients are sparse, they still have flavor. Because as versatile as ground beef can be, it can still turn out pretty bland- especially without any powerful spices to give it some character. Since I was essentially only working with a ‘beef’ flavor, I decided to just bump it up a few notches. That ‘bump’ mainly came from a packet of Beefy Onion Soup Mix. It enhanced the flavor of the meat, while also giving it some moisture so it wasn’t dried out inside the pastry after baking.

Meat Pies3

These meat pies are pretty easy to make, not just because of the simplicity of the filling, but also because the ‘pastry’ is really just canned biscuits that I stretched out with my hands, then folded together. I know, I’m cheating. But I had other things to cook that day, and needed something in a quick fix that would still taste good. I’m not afraid of making my own pie crust, but if you are, then the biscuits in this recipe are an easy and just as delicious alternative.  I went with Pillsbury Grand’s Southern Biscuits. Word of advice though: do NOT use any Flaky kinds. Flaky biscuits puff up and separate while baking, and while this is fine eating them on their own, it doesn’t work well for meat pies. You want them to stay together. That’s the whole point.

Meat Pies4

Traditional meat pies in Australia and the UK are typically served with ketchup on the side for dipping. These would probably taste fine that way, but I also think that barbecue sauce or A1 steak sauce would be pretty tasty. I just served them with the leftover gravy I had from the filling, and they got the thumbs up from Ashley. But you can serve/eat yours however you want. It’s your world.

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Ashley’s Meat Pies

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Yield: 16 pies

Ingredients

2 to 2 1/2 lbs of ground beef

1lb sausage (Any variety you like is fine, I used Jenni-O Turkey Sausage)

2 cans refrigerated Biscuits (NO FLAKY KINDS- I used Pillsbury Grands Southern)

1 packet of Beefy Onion Soup Mix

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1/4 tsp Pepper

1/2 tsp sugar

2 cups water

4 tablespoons flour

1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°

2. Brown the beef and sausage together in a skillet over medium heat. Drain off fat, extra juices in a colander. Place drained meat in bowl and set aside to cool.

3. Pour onion soup packet and water in a 2 qt. saucepan with 4 tablespoons of flour and bring to a boil.

4. Add garlic powder, pepper and sugar and stir to combine. Let gravy cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for about 5 minutes.

 5. Scoop 1/3 cup of cooled gravy and mix into browned meat. Then, add another 1/3 cup of gravy and stir to combine, being sure to evenly coat the filling.

6. Lay out a piece of wax paper or parchment paper on counter top. Open canned biscuits, and separate, one at a time as you go.

7. Use your fingers to gently spread and stretch biscuit, pressing outward from the center to the rim of dough. It should be about 3-4 inches wide.

8. Scoop out a little less than 1/4 cup of meat and gravy filling and place it in center of biscuit dough.

9. Gently fold one side of dough over the filling and press it against bottom side. Crimp the edges of the dough with a fork to ensure that it is sealed and does not leak during baking.

10. Place pies on greased baking sheets, about eight per pan. Brush tops with beaten egg with a pastry brush.

11. Bake for 15-20 minutes in preheated oven until golden brown on tops and bottoms*

 *Depending on the type of oven you have, you may need to rotate the pans from top to bottom oven shelves halfway through to ensure even baking.