It’s picnic weather again! And with portability in mind, Jamaican Beef Patties are a great alternative to the “same-old” sameness of sandwiches. With spiced beef tucked into a turmeric-bright crust, these savory hand pies are our family tote-along favorite. I sometimes double the filling recipe and freeze, to have at-theready for another batch of hand pies at the next picnic.
MAKES 4 TO 6 RECTANGULAR HAND PIES
FOR THE CRUST:
• 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
• 2 tsp turmeric
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 stick unsalted butter (½ cup) OR ½ stick butter plus ¼ cup lard
• 3 Tbsp cold water (or a bit more, if needed)
• 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water (for egg wash)
FOR THE FILLING:
• 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
• 1 medium onion, peeled, cored and finely chopped to make 1 cup 1 Scotch Bonnet or habanero chili, seeds removed, minced
• ½ cup water
• 1 Tbsp Jamaican curry powder
• 1 tsp ground Jamaican allspice
• 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, stems removed
• 1 ½ pounds ground beef
• 1 tsp each, salt and freshly ground black pepper
• ¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
• 2 tsp Knox gelatin powder
• 1 Tbsp Jamaican Browning sauce (I used Grace brand)
• ¼ cup beef stock
MAKE CRUST: Sift flour with salt and turmeric into a large, shallow bowl. Slice butter (and lard, if using) into small pieces and scatter over the flour. Cut butter into the flour with two knives. Using your fingertips and deft, quick movements, break remaining bits of butter into the flour into smaller and smaller fragments until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Use a fork to mix just enough cold water into the dough, adding just one Tbsp at a time until dough begins to gather up. Cover your work surface with two overlapping pieces of plastic wrap. Scrape pastry from mixing bowl onto the plastic (don’t worry if it’s still a bit crumbly.) Gather the corners of the plastic up and squeeze the dough into a ball, squishing it a few times to incorporate any crumbles. Try not to overhandle the dough. (If the dough seems too crumbly, add another tablespoon of water and lightly work it into the dough.) Spread work surfacwith two more overlapping pieces of plastic wrap. Place ball of dough in center. Flatten dough into a rectangular shape. Fold and flatten again. Cover with two more overlapping sheets of plastic. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Leaving the plastic intact, lift and place dough onto cookie sheet; refrigerate while you make filling.
MAKE FILLING: In a heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium heat, add oil and saute onion and chili pepper until beginning to soften. Add ½ cup water and continue cooking until water has evaporated and onion is very soft. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Add remaining vegetable oil, curry powder, allspice and thyme to saute pan; stir for a few seconds until fragrant. Crumble beef over and stir, cooking through. Stir in salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, browning sauce and gelatin powder. Add beef stock; add the sauteed pepper and onion, stir to incorporate. Remove from heat and set aside.
FILL AND BAKE PIES: Preheat oven to 400. Spread a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place refrigerated dough on work surface; remove top sheet of plastic. Cut dough into 4 to 6 rectangles. Place 3 Tbsp of filling on one end of a rectangle. Fold in half to enclose filling; working around the edge, crimp to form hand pie. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat until you have filled each of your dough rectangles. Freeze or refrigerate remaining filling. Brush top of each hand pie with egg wash. Slice three little vents on the top of each. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until crusts are golden brown.