Jamaican beef patties are an icon of Caribbean street food. They are typically handheld pies with vibrant, yellow, and flaky crust encasing a filling of ground beef redolent of island spices and packing some serious heat from the local Scotch bonnet peppers.
The beef patty first appeared on the island after the arrival of British colonists. As has happened countless times throughout history, colonists arrived with particular tastes — in this case, for Cornish pasties — and the locals found a way to make them their own. The Cornish pasty is a traditional British hand pie that is typically filled with meat and vegetables. Jamaican cooks took that idea and ran with it, incorporating turmeric and curry powder into the pastry crust for its trademark yellow hue and filling the pies with beef spiced with thyme, allspice, more curry powder, and Scotch bonnet peppers, a close relative of the habanero with a similar kick. Thus, the beef patty was born, a dish truly Jamaican in character and emblematic of the flavors of the Caribbean.
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients for the crust by stirring together flour, sugar, salt, curry powder, and turmeric until uniform.
Cut the butter into small pieces and stir into the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives.
Add the ice water a few tablespoons at a time, stirring between each addition.
Turn out the dough onto the counter and form it into a ball. Wrap the dough ball and place it in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
To make the filling, bring a large skillet to medium-high heat. When hot, add the ground beef and cook, breaking apart, for 3–5 minutes, until a good amount of fat has rendered.
Add the onion, plantain, scallions, ginger, garlic, Scotch bonnet, curry powder, thyme, and allspice. Cook this, stirring regularly, for 8–10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.
Stir in the flour and cook for around 2 minutes to remove any raw flour taste.
Add the chicken broth and stir until it thickens into a nice gravy.
Once the filling is thick, remove the pan from heat. Stir in the sugar and add salt to taste.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Remove the dough ball from the fridge and slice it in half. Roll one half into a circle around ¼-inch thick, and use this to line the bottom of an 8-inch pie pan, pressing the dough into the corners.
Fill the bottom crust with the gravy from the skillet.
Roll out the other half of the dough and place it on top of the pie. Trim the excess crust to fit the tin.
Crimp the edges of the two crusts together and cut a few small steam vents in the center of the pie.
Bake at 425 F for 30–40 minutes, until the crust is crisp and the edges begin to brown.
Allow to cool and settle for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.