Jamaican Meat Pies

Oh how I love a good meat pie. Chewy, flaky pastry, rich savory gravy, meat and veg to give you the excuse to eat all the pastry and gravy . . . Besides, it seems as though everything I’m doing these days is some sort of folded pastry situation, so eventually you knew it’d come to this.

If you’ve never had a Jamaican meat pie (aka meat patty or beef patty), it’s a chewy flaky pastry, often seasoned with curry and other spices, wrapped around a hefty spoonful of ground beef and onions, heavily spiced with curry and chiles and magic. Ooooh giggity.scrumptious meat pie

So this original recipe, at Serious Eats, said it made 6 pies. I doubled both parts but ended up with enough filling for 7 extra pies (some of which were stuffed to the brim) and still had more left over. So here, I doubled the dough recipe but left the filling as it was.

Jamaican Meat Pies
adapted from Serious Eats

Dough

  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ cup curry powder, preferably Jamaican
  • 1 lb unsalted butter (yes, that’s right)
  • 1 ½ cups cold water
  • 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly whisked

Filling

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, minced (I used random yard chiles)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 ¼ cups beef or chicken broth
  • 1 ½ tbsp Pickapeppa sauce or steak sauce
  • 1 ½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp yellow curry, preferably Jamaican
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme (or a couple of pinches of dried, if you don’t have)
  • ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • Egg wash made from 1 large egg mixed with ¼ cup water

Make your dough

(You may want to do this in two batches so as not to explode your food processor.)  Add flour, salt, and curry powder to the food processor fitted with the steel blade, and pulse to mix.  Cut your butter into little pieces and scatter over dry ingredients.  Like you would for a pie crust, pulse until the mix resembles coarse cornmeal and the biggest butter pieces are the size of peas.

Whisk the eggs lightly in a small bowl, then add water and vinegar.  Stir to combine, then add it to the food processor and pulse until the dough forms a rough ball.  Wrap the dough in plastic and fridge for at least an hour.

Make your house smell amazing

Brown the ground beef in the olive oil, in a large sauté pan (has to be big enough for all your saucy liquids).  When the beef is nearly done, nudge it to the side and add the onions, garlic, and pepper.  Cook, stirring, until onions are soft, 4-5 minutes.aromatics for meat pies

Add broth, Pickapeppa or steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, cayenne, curry, allspice, salt, bay leaves, and thyme.  Stir to combine, turn down to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and pick out the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Add breadcrumbs and stir thoroughly.

Put your oven rack on the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375.  Flour your work surface and rolling pin (and dump a little pile on the side at the ready, you’ll need it).  Roll out half of the dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut out 6” circles – you should be able to get 6 or 7 circles.  Line a sheet pan with parchment and set it next to your dough.

Free one of your little circles and brush the edges with the egg wash.  Put a generous couple of tablespoons of filling onto one half of your circle, leaving room around the edge.  (You’ll want to get 12-14 pies out of your filling – plan accordingly.)  Fold the other half of the circle over and press around the edges to seal.  Press the edges with the tines of a fork and set your little friend on the sheet pan.  Repeat.meat pie assembly

Brush your pies with egg wash and bake for 25-35 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and amazing.  Let these sunny little beauties rest for 5 minutes before scarfing them down and burning your tongue.jamaican meat pies

Greek Chicken Pie (Kotopita)

I love a good roast chicken, preferably homemade but I’m totally not above a grocery store rotisserie birdie on a weeknight.  I love to pick at the carcass like that guy from Amelie, and I always go for the oysters. And one of the best things about roast chicken is all the leftover meat to make delicious things out of.  This pie is quick and simple (yes, even with the phyllo), and the warm cinnamon takes it a step out of the ordinary while still remaining immensely comforting.

I’ve been on a little phyllo kick lately.  I decided to overcome my assumption that phyllo is just too complicated, because really, we make pretty much every other complicated thing out there, so why not this too?  You need a big smooth space to work on (I use a double-wide Silpat, which is a very handy thing to have around) and a basting brush, but that’s about it.  If your phyllo is cracked, like mine was, just get creative – it’s deliberately messy!

greek chicken pie (kotopita)

Greek Chicken Pie (Kotopita)
adapted from Kokkari

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 10 sheets frozen phyllo, thawed

In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until well softened, 10-12 minutes. Add the cinnamon and stir for another minute or two. Transfer to a large bowl and add the chicken, stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Put the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil in a bowl. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9” x 13” baking dish with oil. (I used a pie plate instead, because I had a little less chicken. I laid 4 sheets out over the plate with plenty of overhang, then just folded them over the filling and somewhat artfully crumpled them.)

Stack the phyllo sheets on a work surface and trim them so they measure about 10” x 14”, a little bigger than the dish on all sides. Layer 5 sheets in the bottom of the dish, brushing each layer with olive oil. Spread the chicken filling in an even layer, then top with the remaining 5 sheets of phyllo, brushing each layer with olive oil.

With a sharp knife, cut the pie into 15 squares. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown and crisp, about 45 minutes. Serve warm, not hot.

Serves 6.

Incidentally, the whole time I was making and eating this, all I could think about was Chicken Run, which is a great movie if you haven’t seen it.  The villain has this gnarly, sour voice and the way she says “Mrs. Tweedy’s Chicken Pies” has been stuck in my head for the last two days.  I guess this is Mrs. Young’s Chicken Pie? (Stop squeeeing, mom.)

Summer Spite Pie

Since Little Miss did an entire post on how I never make pies, I made a spite pie last weekend for a BBQ using the beauteous blue Auberge pie plate that she rejected and Yuan so graciously gave me.  Eat your heart out Little Miss!

Here in Davis, summer is just around the corner and the farmer’s market bounty yielded some fat blueberries and sweet nectarines and peaches, which inspired me to revisit Mrs. Scott’s blueberry peach pie!  Growing up in East Hampton, I had the pleasure of having unfettered access to Mrs. Scott’s amazing baked goods.  I don’t even like sweets and seriously, I couldn’t stop eating anything this woman baked.  Oh, I couldn’t possibly eat this giant piece of cake, oh, where did it go? IN MY BELLY.  I actually used to go to her house late night to scavenge on her leftover desserts after her dinner guests had left. Whenever I see her, she always makes sure that she has my favorite banana chocolate chip muffins.  I love you Mrs. Scott!

But I digress, Mrs. Scott makes the best blueberry peach pie ever.  I attempted this pie two years ago, and while it came out pretty yummy, it was not the same.  This time, I actually called Mrs. Scott for her recipe and I now share this precious knowledge with our loyal readers!

For the crust, I used Dorie Greenspan’s Good For Almost Everything Pie Dough and combined 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 2 1/2 sticks of frozen unsalted butter (cut into tablespoon pieces), and 1/3 cup of frozen vegetable shorting (cut into four pieces) in a food processor until the butter and shortening were crumbly and pea-sized.  Then I gradually added about 6 tbsp of ice water while pulsing until the dough stuck together.  I split the dough in half, wrapped the dough disks in plastic wrap and refrigerated it for about a hour.  I rolled out the dough disk between some floured parchment paper until it was about 1/8 inch thick, fitted it into the pie plate, tightly plastic wrapped it, and froze it – mostly because I didn’t have room in the fridge, but I think it made the crust extra flakey.   I rolled out the second dough disk into another 1/8 inch thick round, wrapped it and put it in the fridge for a hour.

Mrs. Scott’s Blueberry Peach Pie

  • 4-5 peaches and/or nectarines (cut into pieces)
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 tbsp minute tapioca
  • 2 tbsp butter

Mix fruit, sugar, and tapioca in a bowl and let it stand for 15 min.  Turn it into the pie crust and dot with butter.

Moisten the edges of the bottom pie crust and cover with the top pie crust.  Seal the edges and cut four slits and a middle circle into the top of the pie.  Brush top with egg wash, sprinkle some sugar on top then bake in the oven for 50-60 min until the crust is golden brown in a 400 degree oven.  Let it cool down to room temperature and serve.

Bjorn made homemade peach ice cream to accompany my beautiful pie.  And while the pie wasn’t quite as good as Mrs. Scott makes it, apparently everyone at my BBQ loved Mrs. Scott’s pie as much as I do because this is what the plate looked like within 30 minutes of me putting it on the table.

There’s No Justice in Pies

Alright readers.  I confess.  I have been a bad, bad Asian.  Maybe even a Bsian.  I have neglected you and that just isn’t right.  But I’m back, and with a tale of injustice so gripping it is sure to vaunt me back into your good graces.

It should be clear from the start of this tragic tale that I recognize my role in all of this.  I do.  I take full responsibility for my actions.  I appeal instead to a higher order, a more universal justice, to right this grievous wrong.

Ok.  So Yuan, for reasons which are not important here, was recently going through another rash of giving away his stuff.  He does this every now and then.  Seriously, like half my movie collection is Yuan’s.  The Princess and her wuzzband bought his Wii for $75 and it came with a free car.  Not gonna lie, these purges of his are pretty awesome.

So Yuan asked me if I wanted his blue pie plate.  Not remembering him having any pie plates, because he doesn’t make pies, I assume it’s one of those blue Pyrex things, because why would he have a nice pie plate if he doesn’t make pies?  I’ve got plenty of Pyrex pie plates, so I decline – I’ve already got his whole stereo and a bunch of other stuff, so I figure I’ll share the wealth.

A few days later I was over at Yuan’s, and saw a little pile of stuff he’d set aside for the Princess.  On top of it is this lovely deep-dish blue enameled pie plate with fluted edges…..and my world comes crashing down around me, like a wave of ice water full of stinging hornets.  F@%#!!!!  THIS IS THE BLUE PIE PLATE?? I TOTALLY want this pie plate!  And Princess gets it now??  She doesn’t even make pies!! Ohhhhhhhh how gorgeous my pies would look in such a classic vessel!  It even matches my other bakeware!  I mean, imagine what THIS would look like in if it was in a nice pie plate….

Lattice-top blueberry pie, made only because I love to make pies

Or this…..look at how the plain old pie plate is making the whole thing look just a little sad…also let’s note that I made another pie.

Apple pie

With delicious streusel top

How many pies has Princess made over the last 6, maybe 7 months?  NARY A ONE.  She did send me a picture of a casserole she’d made in the pie plate.  I cried that night, readers, tears of fury and indignation…  Ok, not really, but come ON!

So now, of course, the Princess won’t relinquish the damn thing.  She just cackles and promises that she’ll will it to me.  Knowing her that girl’s gonna outlive me just for spite!  Everyone, of course, thinks this is hilaaaaaaarious, and they just looooooove to taunt me about the blue pie plate.

IT WILL BE MINE!  Mark my words, readers, it will be mine.

Except that I was up at the Princess’ place this weekend and was fully planning to steal it, and then forgot.  Sigh.

T-Day Preparations

In preparation for the eating holiday of the year, my fellow squabbling asians drove out to Davis to prepare for the feast. Yuan made some delicious turkey stock with roasted turkey wings and necks, onions, carrots, celery, bay leaf, salt and peppercorns. Little Miss did a wonderful lattice on her festive cranberry pear pie and Yuan and I had a stuffing making contest.

Mr. Turkey, a free range 18 lb bird from Mollie Stone’s, drove up from San Francisco in his cooler chariot. Yuan made a brine out of salt, pepper, brown sugar, garlic, thyme, rosemary, apple cider, and orange slices, and Mr. T bathed in it overnight. The next morning, a citrus herb butter was prepared…

… and rubbed all over Mr. T before he went into the oven breast side down at 425 degrees for a hour. We then flipped him over, lowered the heat to 350 degrees and he cooked for another two and a half hours.