Caribbean AppetizerJamaican beef patties

Jamaican Beef Patties
(Makes 10 small patties.)

These aromatic, curried pastries are filled with beef and popular throughout the Caribbean. Terrific as small appetizers or use as an entree.*

Pastry Dough
2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 C butter
1/4 C shortening
1/3 C water (use more as needed)

2 T vegetable oil
1 lb. ground beef
1/3 C onion (chopped)
1 carrot (grated)
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 C chicken broth (yes, chicken)
1/2 bread fine dry crumbs (unflavored)
1 egg (well beaten)—to brush pastry tops

Pastry: Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; then cut in butter and shortening till the texture looks like small pebbles. Slowly, stir in cold water till mixture clumps up into a ball. Shape into a log, cut into 10 sections, then flatten each section into a 6" circle, about 1/8" thick. Set aside.

Filling: In a large skillet, heat oil and saute onion and carrot for 5 minutes. Add ground beef and the 6 spices—up to (but not including) broth. Cook, stirring constantly. Once the meat is browned, add broth and bread crumbs. Simmer (uncovered) till liquid is absorbed. Set aside and allow to cool slightly so it's easier to handle.

Assembly: Preheat oven to 400. Make little 1/2-moon pastries by spooning equal amounts of filling onto one side of each pastry circle. Fold circles in-half, pinch edges to close, then brush the tops with the egg. Bake 30 minutes, or until golden.

* For a meal-sized pattie, cut 5 large pastry circles instead of 10 smaller ones. Also, add 1/2" cubed potatoes and/or green peas to the filling.

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Tips & Glossary

Caribbean cuisine is an exquisite blend of African, Asian, European, and Carib Indian (the area's original inhabitants) foods. Dishes are highly seasoned, either with a dry rub or marinade —or both. Below are some typical ingredients found in Caribbean food.

Callaloo: young leaves of either the taro root plant or amaranth; used widely in Caribbean cooking. Spinach can be used as a substitute.

Spices: Allspice, bay leaves, black pepper, chives, chili peppers, cilantro, cinnamon, coconut, curry powder, escallion, garlic, ginger, lime, mace, nutmeg, onion, oregano, sugar, thyme, orange, tomato paste, vanilla, cayenne (red) pepper.

Jerk: Jamaican cooking method in which meat is rubbed, prior to grilling, with a blend of seasonings, often firey hot.

Jerk is also the name of the seasoning (from Spanish charqui, or dried meat). You can buy jerk in most grocery stores (even McCormick makes it), or can make and store your own.

• 1 T each—onion powder, garlic powder, dried chives, brown sugar; 2 tsp. each— (ground) allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon; 1 tsp. each—sage. thyme, salt, black pepper, cayenne (or more to taste). Mix thoroughly and store in a tightly covered jar.

There are thousands of versions; figure out what flavors you like most and add or subtract accordingly.

Typical meats: goat, pork, chicken, and some beef (though beef has tended to be expensive).

Fish: varieties that abound in surrounding waters, some familiar to us—grouper, cod, tilapia, blue marlin; others not so—200 species of jack, chip-chips (tiny clams), casadura (primitive armored catfish).

Native plant foods:
• ackee—peach-looking fruit with pulp like scrambled eggs
• annatto (achiote) seed
red coloring or flavoring agent w/ slightly sweet peppery taste.
• cassava root (taro root)
• malanaga root
• scotch bonnet peppers
• breadfruit—fruit used like a potato in salads, stews, even whipped.
• passion fruit

More familiar foods:
bananas and plantains, okra, yams, papaya, mangoes, coconut, yams, sweet potatoes, rice, beans, corn and cornmeal.


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