Thursday, 28 June 2012

Jamaican Patties - Greens

Most people are probably more familiar with beef-filled Jamaican patties, but I was first introduced to vegetarian ones, through a vegan friend, and so always regard them as slightly the more authentic. In reality, I am sure people fill them with whatever they like or have available.

My impression is that in Jamaica, a greens-filled patty like this would contain callaloo, a member of the amaranth family. For me, Swiss chard makes an excellent substitute and it is widely available throughout the summer. We also freeze it for winter use, so I can make these all year long if I want. Swiss chard really freezes very well - I am almost convinced that I like it better than fresh chard!

I forgot to check - sorry - how many Swiss chard leaves this was, but I would say about 12 to 16 good large ones.

12 patties
2 hours - 1 hour prep time

Make the Pastry:
2 cups soft whole wheat flour
2 cups soft unbleached flour
2 tablespoons Jamaican curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup mild vegetable oil
1/3 cup soft unsalted butter
about 1/2 cup very cold water

Measure the flours and mix in the salt and the vegetable oil. Cut the butter into chunks and rub or cut it into the flour until it is fairly evenly distributed, in small pea-sized bits.

Mix in the oil, until it is roughly distributed, then stir in the water, one half at a time, with a fork or the side of the spoon. (Use cutting motions.) Be prepared to use a little more or less, depending on the flour and general humidity.

When the flour is mostly moistened and the mixture is starting to hold together, dump it all out onto a sheet of parchment paper. Work it gently into a ball, picking up any dry bits and folding them in, but do not knead or overwork the dough.

When you have a rough but solid ball, wrap it in the parchment paper and set it aside to rest while you make the filling.

Make the Filling:
2 cups packed cooked Swiss chard or other greens
3 large shallots OR 1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
OR 1 teaspoon rubbed dry thyme
1 tablespoon Jamaican curry powder
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
OR hot sauce to taste
1/2 cup water 

Wash the Swiss chard, and trim off the stems. Chop them coarsely, and drop them in boiling water for just a minute. Drain and rinse in cold water. Squeeze them well to remove as much liquid as possible. Chop them again, and measure out 2 packed cups.

Peel the shallots or onion, and chop finely. Peel and mince the garlic. Make the bread crumbs and set them aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the shallots or onion and cook for a minute or two, until soft and translucent. Add the chard and mix it in well. Add the salt, thyme, curry and cayenne or hot sauce. Add the bread crumbs and mix them in well. Add the water, and cook for several minutes, stirring well, until it is all absorbed. It mixture should be fairly moist but not sloppy. Turn off the heat and let the it cool a bit as you roll out the dough.

Fill & Bake the Patties:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion out quite thinly, and as round as you can make it. I find it best to press and pat it into as flat a circle as I can, before I actually start rolling. I also find it best to do this on a sheet of parchment paper.

Once you have a circle rolled out, take one-twelfth of the filling (about 1/4 of a cup) and place it in the middle of the circle. Fold it over and pinch it closed, pressing down the edges with the tines of a fork. Poke the top several times with the fork to allow the steam to escape. Place the prepared patty on a baking sheet, preferably also lined with parchement paper.

Continue rolling and filling the patties. Once you have 6 made, they can go into the oven to be baked for 30 minutes while you continue making the rest of them. Then bake them too for 30 minutes.

Best served warm; they can be re-heated for 15 minutes in a hot oven.

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