All of us have fond and cringing memories of our university day food choices. I drank a lot of brown cows (Kahlua with milk) and ate a LOT of junky pad thai, pizza, and Jamaican beef patties. And the Montrealers are nodding, while everyone else is confused. We could get packs of these meat pockets in the freezer section of every corner store and grocery, so imagine my horror when I realized they’re impossible to find in Milwaukee. I whined and begged for years before putting on my apron and giving these a whirl. Like films from our childhoods, foods we prize rarely tend to live up to our memories, especially food from the student era. I steeled myself for many rounds of improvements, for total failure, and was shocked when these came out great the very first time. It turns out Dave is a whiz at pastry cutting, which I am awful at – mine come out flattened bricks, while his were flaky perfection. He may come to regret excelling in that arena, as my craving was satiated for the first time in a decade! And the kids loved them as much as I did.
Despite the fact that all you will want for this meal is steaming meat pockets of glory, try serving it with a mango and tomato salad, or fresh fruit.
Jamaican Beef Patties
This makes a big batch because these freeze fabulously before you cook them or after. Freeze them on the sheet, then transfer to a large ziploc bag. Of course, around here, they never make it to the freezer. Maybe you'll have better luck! Use the same cooking instructions, just add a few minutes to the time.
- 4 cup flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3-4 tbsp curry powder*
- 3/4 cup ice cold unsalted butter diced into cubes
- 1/2 cup or so cold water
- 2 onions, minced
- 2-3 TB vegetable oil
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 3 lb ground beef (turkey works too but we prefer beef)
- 1-3 minced chile, habanero or scotch bonnet is ideal*
- 3 TB soy sauce
- 2 TB curry powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- dash cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground thyme
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup chicken or beef broth, prepared
- salt and pepper
- 1 egg beaten
- *Play with the chile and curry quantities. They'll really change the balance of flavors, and we all have our own preferences.
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Step 2 In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar and curry powder. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in the cold butter. Dave ended up using his fingers until it got nice and crumbly. Keep blending in the butter it resembles the size of small peas. Add just enough water to get the dough a little moist. If you go too far and it gets sticky, add a touch more flour. Form a ball of dough that holds its form but isn’t sticky.
- Step 3 Put the dough back in the large bowl and dust lightly with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about half an hour. Pull it out and cut the ball into 15-20 equal parts. Roll each into a 6 inch circle.
- Step 4 Over medium high heat, saute the onions in oil until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one minute.
- Step 5 Add ground beef, peppers, soy sauce and all the seasonings. Stir well and break up big chunks until browned and the seasonings are well distributed. Pour off some of the liquid if there’s a lot in the pan, leaving a few tablespoons in the bottom.
- Step 6 Add the flour and mix into the meat. Add the broth and bring the mixture to a boil. You want the filling to be juicy but not wet. Let the beef cool for about 30 minutes.
- Step 7 Add filling to one half of each circle of dough, leaving an edge for sealing. Brush exposed dough with the egg. Fold and press the edges together with a fork. Poke a couple holes into the top of each patty. Put the finished patties on a parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure they don’t touch. Brush the tops with any remaining egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.