These Jamaican Beef Patties are similar to baked empanadas, but are classically Jamaican in flavor. The hearty beef filling isn't overly spicy, making this a family-friendly treat. Curry powder-laced dough yields a lovely color and flavor, as well as a beautifully flaky texture.
1Scotch Bonnet or Habanero chilestemmed, seeded, and minced (wear gloves!)
2tablespoonscurry powder(preferably Jamaican)
1 ½teaspoonsdried thyme
¾teaspoonground allspice(preferably Jamaican)
1 ½pounds(680 grams) ground beef
¾cup(100 grams) dried breadcrumbs
¾cupbeef broth or water
3cups(375 grams) all-purpose flour
1tablespooncurry powder(preferably Jamaican)
6ounces(1 ½ sticks / 170 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½cup + 2 tablespoons cold wateror as needed
1egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
To make the filling: heat the oil in a large, preferably nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, chile, curry powder, salt, thyme, and allspice, and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened.
Add the ground beef and use the edge of a wooden spoon to break it into pieces. Continue to cook until all the beef is cooked through, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn or stick, another 5 minutes or so.
Add the breadcrumbs, stirring to combine, then add the broth or water and mix until absorbed. Remove the filling from the heat and let it cool completely.
To make the dough: stir together the flour, curry powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the cold butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture. Using your fingers, or a pastry blender if you have one, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay; be careful not to overblend). If using your fingers, just rub the mixture together, but don’t overwork the mixture or the butter will get too warm and soften too much.
Sprinkle in about ½ cup of the cold water and gently mix it into the flour with your fingers or a plastic bowl scraper or spatula. Do not overwork the dough. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of water, or more as needed until the dough just comes together into a ball, but isn't too wet or sticky.
Divide the dough into 16 pieces, each weighing approximately 1 ½ ounces or 43 grams. Roll each ball between your palms to smooth it out. Arrange the balls on a small tray or large plate and refrigerate for about 10 to 15 minutes so they aren't too soft for rolling out.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
One at a time, place a ball of dough on a lightly floured surface, press your palm into a ball of dough to begin to flatten it, then use a rolling pin to roll it out evenly into circle about 5-inches in diameter. They may not be perfect circles, but that’s ok.
Add a packed ¼ cup of filling to the dough circle, offset so it covers about one half of the circle with about ½ inch border around the edge. It will seem like a lot of filling, but you can press and compact the filling a bit to make sure you fill it generously. Fold over the dough and pinch the edges to enclose the filling. Use the tines of a fork to press along the edges to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Place the sealed beef patties onto the parchment-lined baking sheets, then chill the sheets in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to help set the dough (it will bake up flakier if you don’t skip this step).
Evenly brush the tops of the patties with the egg wash, and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pans from front to back and top to bottom, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.
Store leftover Jamaican beef patties in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat them in the oven or toaster oven before serving to freshen them up by re-crisping the crust, and heating the filling through.
Freeze patties in a single layer and then transfer to a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a 350°F oven for about 15 minutes, or until crispy and heated through.
If you'd like your dough to be an even brighter yellow color, add a little ground turmeric in addition to the curry powder.
If you want cleaner looking edges to your beef patties, after folding and before crimping you may use a knife or pastry wheel to carefully trim the edges to smooth them out. I like the rustic look with its imperfections so I typically don't do this.
Traditionally Jamaican beef patties are served plain without condiments or dipping sauces.
This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US), preferably Diamond Crystal brand. If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! I have also reduced the amount of salt from the original recipe for the filling, from 1 tablespoon to 2 teaspoons.