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

Eat Real

Summer in the Bay is all about farmers markets and street fairs, with the latter happening  somewhere just about every weekend.  Usually it’s just the standard stuff on sticks, in buns, battered and fried, foil wrapped.  Delicious, sure, but nothing that’ll make your socks roll up and down.  Until last year, when everything changed.  The bar for street fairs was raised to glorious soaring heights when the Eat Real Festival came on the scene.  Eat Real is an explosion of gourmet food trucks (a growing presence around here, and it’s about goddamn time), stands from local restaurants and vendors, music, chickens, a Wine Barn, and demonstrations of everything from cheese-making to pig butchering.  It was so good on Saturday, in fact, that we skipped Dollar Day at the racetrack to go again on Sunday.  I can hear you wondering, “Could anything be worth skipping Dollar Day??”  Oh my goodness yes.

The festival sprawls out across Jack London Square, on the Oakland harbor.  Spencer on the Go (left) has these wonderful little escargot pops – tender snails wrapped in puff pastry, drenched in garlic butter, and eaten off a toothpick.  The fact that I can eat escargot on a stick in the middle of the street makes me think mankind is going to be alright after all.  Chairman Bao (right) is the hand of God reaching down to the masses, if God drives a truck and his hand is a sweet steamed bun (bao!) full of something amazing.  More about that later.

Gerard’s staggeringly large paella, which I learned today means not only the dish but the pan it’s cooked in.  If you don’t get just a little excited or drooly looking at this picture, there’s something wrong with you, and you are hereby banished to foodnetwork.com.

Dim sum!  Though when there are 85 vendors and only three days to try them in, some of the more accessible things must be foregone.  Sorry dim sum, you’re just too everyday…

Corn from Los Cilantros, possibly the most delicious thing at the festival and definitely among the top three.  Served Mexican street food style, grilled up and slathered with mayo, lime, chili, and salty grated cheese.  Everywhere you went at Eat Real, someone was asking someone else where they got what they were eating, and this seemed to be the thing people were asking about the most.  Definitely a good sign.

Incidentally, Los Cilantros is a catering and farmers market operation that works out of La Cocina, a culinary microbusiness incubator in San Francisco.  They help people, mostly low-income and immigrant women, get started in the food business by providing commercial kitchen space and technical know-how.  In addition to being a great economic development initiative, it’s a significant step toward bringing the area’s best home cooking closer to my mouth.

On top, a sampling of bao from Chairman Bao, the truck I was gushing about before.  On the left, spicy duck confit with tangy, sweet slices of mango and onion.  On the right, chicken with scallions and greens, rich, sweet, and slightly spicy.  Naysayers about this truck may piss and moan about how long the line is or how they don’t want to pay $2.50 for a bao.  Those people need to get over themselves.  These buns are off the chain.

Below the bao, lobster rolls from Sam’s Chowdermobile.  Personally, I like my lobster roll with a touch more mayo, but otherwise these are pretty much perfect.  The lobster is sweet and tender and everything summer should taste like, especially when you eat it sitting on the ground drinking wine out of a mason jar.

Short rib Korean taco.  At least in California, the gourmet food truck movement seems to have gotten really big with the advent of Korean tacos, starting with the Kogi truck in Los Angeles.  This one was pretty good, but the Nunchuk Chicken taco from Kung Fu Tacos was better, IMHO.

Drool-worthy items not photographed include banana beignets and fried plantains from Soleil’s African Kitchen, Zilla dogs and chicharrones from 4505 Meats, and the very good selection at the aforementioned Wine Barn.  There’s no other event I know of where you can watch a steer butchering competition while eating snails on a stick, an organic hot dog covered in fried pork rinds, and a paneer tikka masala burrito.  Eat Real 2011, you cannot come soon enough!