Is there anything more delicious than a hand pie?
If you’re not sure, these flaky pastries — representative of a Caribbean street food staple — should win you over with their sunny, island flair. Stuffed with ground beef seasoned with the traditional Jamaican flavorings of scallions, garlic, curry powder, allspice and chilli, they offer just enough spice to create a little heat, but not to the point. not to taste the flavors.
The original recipe paired the beef with a turmeric yolk tinted sour cream crust, but I thought a shortening-based hand pie crust would be easier to work with. And I was right: Pulsed together in a food processor, the dough is not only super indulgent, making it easy for even a novice to roll into circles, but also sturdy enough to bend and fill with filling. Plus, it cooks tender and flaky.
If you like a little more fire on your lips, add another habanero or two; if you want less, substitute a less hot Scotch bonnet pepper.
JAMAICAN BEEF PIES
Yield: 16 hand pies
1 tbsp plus 1 cup water, divided
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
12 green onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 habanero pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup vegetable broth or broth
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1/2 cup cubed fresh or frozen mango, thawed
1 teaspoon of honey
1 teaspoon of white vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons of water
Prepare the filling: Combine 1 tablespoon of water, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Add beef and stir until well blended. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the beef mixture and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add scallions, garlic, habanero, thyme, curry, allspice and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until scallions are softened, about 3 minutes.
Add bread and remaining 1 cup water and stir to incorporate. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and coats the beef, 8 to 10 minutes. Mash beef mixture with potato masher or fork until finely textured and bread is fully incorporated, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl and let cool completely.
While the meat cools, make the batter: Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, six to eight pulses, add broth and beaten eggs and pulse until batter comes together, about five pulses. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead until the dough forms a smooth ball, about 20 seconds.
Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces. With your cupped hand, form each piece into a smooth, tight ball. (Dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)
Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions, place a rimmed baking sheet on each, and heat the oven to 425 degrees.
Working with one ball of dough at a time, roll each ball of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 6-inch circle. (Don’t worry if it’s not perfect.) Place a little 1/4 cup meat filling in the center of the pastry round. Brush the edges of the dough with water and fold the dough over the filling. Press to seal, trim any jagged edges and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Prick the top of each pie once with a fork. (This allows steam to escape while cooking.)
Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil over the surface of each hot baking sheet, then return to the oven for 2 minutes. Brush the tops of the pies by hand with the remaining tablespoon of oil.
Carefully place half of the hand pies on each prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, inverting and rotating the sheets halfway through. Transfer the pies to a wire rack and let cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the mango sauce by pureeing the mango, honey, vinegar, onion, lime juice and water in a blender or food processor until the ingredients be smooth.
Serve the hand pies warm or at room temperature, with mango sauce for dipping.
— Adapted from “The Savory Baker” by America’s Test Kitchen (February 2022, $35)