Jamaican Patty Party
A few days ago, my friend B. who lives out in the country asked if I had a recipe for "interior meat pie." At first, I thought she meant something along the lines of steak and kidney pie, and I racked my brain over which cuts of meat would be most appropriate. Did she mean organ meats or something along the lines of haggis, perhaps?
When she realized that I was knitting my brow over the word interior for far too long, B. clarified. "No, something hand held, like a snack, using ground beef."
Ah! A patty is what she's talking about. Or maybe not. There's a different word for nearly every continent to describe the notion of stuffing meat inside pastry (now I get the "interior" reference) -- empanada, empandinha, saltena, fetayer, samosa, simbusak, calzone, pasty, and of course, the patty, which hails from Jamaica.
It had more been than a year since I made a batch of patties, and the idea of a hand-held savory snack had my mouth watering. I quickly got to work.
This time of year always makes me yearn for the Caribbean, where sultry air and open windows are a year-round pleasure, where the outdoors become your living room and you hear chickens (as well as your neighbors) clucking at all times of day and night, where the music makes you sway and stay up late.
If you like ground beef, this is a recipe worth trying. The filling is simple yet multilayered in flavor, and good enough to eat on its own. And the dough, spiced with curry powder, is straightforward and forgiving when you roll it out. I've done versions with butter as well as with lard, to see what would happen, and it works either way. Your choice.
Now, if you'd like to give this a whirl but prefer a veggie version, I've got filling details that follow the meat version.
Either way, let's crank up some reggae and get this patty party started. And by all means, share your favorite "interior" pastry tale, from any part of this planet.
Jamaican Beef Patties
Adapted from "Lucinda's Authentic Jamaican Kitchen" by Lucinda Scala Quinn and "Culinaria the Caribbean" by Rosemary Parkinson
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 cup unsalted cold butter (1 stick), diced, or equal amounts cold lard
3/4 cup ice-cold water
1 egg, with 2 teaspoons water, for glazing
Combine flour, salt, baking powder and curry powder in a large mixing bowl. Add butter or lard, and, using fingertips or a fork, cut into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
Gradually add water and toss gently with hands to combine, until dough just forms a ball. Don't overmix; dough will become tough.
Flatten dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 scallions, cleaned, white parts only, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Scotch bonnet chile peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme or fresh sprigs, leaves pulled
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 ounce rum (optional)
Oil spray for greasing pan
Heat oil in a large skillet until hot and add beef, onion, scallions, garlic, chili peppers and thyme. Brown meat and let liquid evaporate, about 8 minutes. Add curry powder, allspice, salt and pepper, and stir to combine, allowing crust to form in pan.
Add water and stir mixture, scraping bottom to loosen crust. Add bread crumbs, stir. Consistency should be thick and mushy. Cover, reduce heat to low. Cook about 15 minutes. If meat gets too dry, add more water, cooking until absorbed, or rum, which helps to loosen the bits stuck on the bottom of the pan and imparts great flavor. Remove from heat, let cool.
Preheat oven to 400.
Dust work surface with flour. Unwrap dough and allow to warm.
Gently pound dough with rolling pin and roll to about 1/8-inch thick. Using a small saucer, cut dough into circles about 7 inches in diameter.
Place 1 tablespoon filling in center of circle. Brush egg glaze on edges and fold dough over filling until edges meet. With a fork, crimp edges until well-sealed. Brush glaze on top.
Place patties on greased baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm. Can be frozen individually and reheated in oven.
Makes 12-15 patties.
From "Lucinda's Authentic Jamaican Kitchen" by Lucinda Scala Quinn
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 pound Calabaza squash, peeled and chopped (about 2 Â½ cups) - alternatively use a few sweet potatoes
1 1 /2 cups water
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded (about 1 Â½ cups)
1 medium potato, diced
1 carrot diced
1/2 chayote (aka cho cho, christophene or mirilton), peeled, pitted and diced (nice if you can get it, but totally optional)
1 whole Scotch bonnet pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Add curry powder and cook for 2 minutes, continuing to stir, making sure not to burn.
Add pumpkin and 3/4 cup of the water and blend it well with curry mixture. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, or until pumpkin is soft enough to mash.
In another pot, add cabbage and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 3 minutes. Drain completely and set aside.
In the skillet, Mash pumpkin until smooth, add remaining water and stir. Add cabbage, potato, carrot, chayote, Scotch bonnet, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Remove Scotch bonnet, and spoon mixture into a bowl, allowing it to cool before filling pastry.
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