Saturday, November 7, 2015

Jamaican Meat Patties

These hand-held savoury pies filled with spiced beef are one of my youngest daughter's favourite snacks. The recipe comes courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, one of the first stars of the food channel and a chef who actually cooked on his show and inspired his audience - including me - to do the same. I can't speak to the authenticity of this recipe, only to the patty's deliciousness! 
The recipe starts with the dough, a basic shortcrust made with flour, water, and both shortening and butter to ensure a tender but flaky pastry. Not so basic is the inclusion of turmeric, an earthy-flavoured spice known as much for its health benefits as its flavour. That makes this pastry a health food, right?
Turmeric is also used as a natural dye. I can attest to its efficacy in transforming everything it touches into a lovely shade of golden yellow, so protect your work surface, your clothing, your hands......
I usually divide the dough in two to make a much more manageable amount for me and my work space. This is a good time to make the filling since the dough needs to rest in the fridge for a while.
The photo above shows some of the ingredients that flavour the beef: alliums like onions and garlic, herbs like thyme and parsley and innumerable spices, some of which you wouldn't expect to find in a savoury dish like cardamom and allspice.
And then there's this little guy: a scotch bonnet pepper that's up to 100 times hotter than a jalapeño chile. Emeril has this listed as an optional ingredient but it adds such a great kick to the patty, I wouldn't omit it. The recipe calls for one but the heat level of fresh chiles varies so I usually taste the mixture part way through cooking to see if more is needed. The meat and flavourings are simmered slowly with tomatoes (I use 400ml canned Italian plum tomatoes) and stock until the flavours meld and most of the liquid has cooked off. 
Once everything is properly chilled and cooled, it's time to make the patties. I can usually get 10 - 15cm circles from the dough if I re-roll the scrapsI used a 1/4 cup of filling per patty for this batch and had a little leftover so 75ml would work better. The egg wash helps to seal the little pies and adds a nice finish to them. I use 1 whole egg rather than yolks alone and water instead of rum. At this point, they can be baked to enjoy right away or frozen to enjoy at a later date.
 Either way, they're delicious! 

If you would like to give them a try, the recipe can be found here

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