Monday, September 22, 2014

Jamaican Me Hungry with Those Beef Patties...

I remember my first time baking homemade Jamaican beef patties.... I had quit my job, the twins were one-and-a-half and home with me, and I was pregnant with my third. I was craving beef patties but couldn't get out on a whim to buy some, so I decided to make them. In fact, I think that was a turning point in how and what I cooked... I couldn't get out to eat my favourite restaurant foods and snacks, so I researched them to death and made them myself to share with my loved ones. Jamaican patties were for many years, my high school lunch on the run- cheap and cheerful! It's no wonder I think about eating them all the time. Layers of crispy dough encase richly spiced meat that is also found on any corner in every town in Jamaica. Although, it takes some time to fill and wrap, the steps are simple and keeping some uncooked in the freezer makes it easy for a quick 15-minute bake-off for a snack or quick lunch. Just turn on some vibing reggae music and groove the time away. This recipe was adapted from "Lucinda's Authentic Jamaican Kitchen," by Lucinda Scala Quinn. I made a large batch so I could divide it up and make both mild and spicy versions to suit my kids, and our penchant for hot!

Jamaican Beef Patties 
Makes 18 regular or 36 small patties (1/2 all the ingredients to make 1/2 the batch)

5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup curry powder
1 cup cold butter (adding this cold will help create a flaky pastry)
1-3/4 cups ice-cold water (as per above)

For the Filling:
2 lbs. ground beef
2 onions, finely chopped
5 green onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 scotch bonnets, finely chopped or a few dashes of scotch bonnet hot sauce at the end 
2 tsp. dried thyme or 4 fresh sprigs
1/4 cup oil
5 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. liquid beef concentrate
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 cups water
1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water

To make the pastry, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and curry powder in a large mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to the bowl. Work quickly using your fingertips to squeeze the butter and toss the flour to resemble peas then add the water. With floured hands, mix and squeeze the dough until it forms a ball. Knead it twice to fully combine (less kneading the more layers thus flakier the crust). 

Divide the dough into four pieces and flatten each into a thick pancake. Wrap and chill for at least 15 minutes. TIP: The dough will keep refrigerated for five days. Just remove 30 minutes before using.
For the filling, mix together the beef, onions, garlic, fresh scotch peppers if using and thyme in a large bowl. In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat and add the beef mixture when very hot. Fry until the meat is brown and the moisture is evaporated. Add the curry powder, salt, black pepper, liquid beef concentrate and scotch bonnet hot sauce if using,  stirring constantly over high heat, allowing a crust to form on the bottom. Add the water, stirring the mixture and scraping the bottom to incorporate the browned crust. Add he bread crumbs and stir.  The consistency should be like a thick stew. Add more water as needed. Cover, reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

To break up ground meat, I pound with a whisk to mince it.

Cook's NOTE: I made a big batch so I could make ample mild and spicy patties. Just remove half the beef mixture into a bowl before adding the hot sauce to the remainder.
Mild and spicy beef mixtures cooling and waiting to be used as filling.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut each piece of the dough into six pieces for regular size patties, or nine for appetizer portions. Using a rolling pin on a floured surface, roll out each piece into a rectangular shape with rounded edges. 

Spread two large spoonfuls (or one large spoonful for appetizer size) of the cooled mixture over one side of the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border on the outer edge. Rim the edge with water on your finger. 

Fold the other side of the dough over, and roll and crimp the edges. Press a fork around the edge to seal.

Place extra patties in a parchment paper-lined box for freezing. Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes from frozen or until cooked.

Brush each patty with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes, or until patties begin to turn a golden brown colour.

YUMMY! Hot-out-of-the-oven goodness! Really scrumptious!

Oh, and how to differentiate the spicy ones from the mild... dot red food colouring with a q-tip.

If you like Jamaican cuisine, give Jamaican-style oxtails a try, either over the stove or in a slow-cooker and pair it with a beautiful and all the delicious Caribbean fruit flavours in Papaya Mango Black Bean Salad!

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