Meat patties, or particularly beef patties, are largely credited to Jamaica, but they are made in Trinidad as well using a particular mix of local spices. Annatto, locally called ruku, gives the pastry its deep yellow color, and green seasoning with curry gives these patties a totally Trini taste. They can be made with ground chicken, turkey, or beef.
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and add the annatto seeds (you should keep well away from the pot or use a spatter screen, as the seeds may pop). Swirl the oil in the pot and fry the seeds for 1 to 2 minutes, until all their color is released into the oil. Strain out the seeds and pour the oil into a heatproof bowl. Let cool and then refrigerate until cold.
Place the flour in a bowl with the salt and cut in the butter pieces with a pastry blender until it reaches the consistency of coarse meal with pea-size pieces. (Alternatively, place the flour in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a plastic blade, and pulse quickly.) If using a food processor, remove the dough from the machine and place in a mixing bowl. Using a spoon, stir the dough while adding drops of cold water, until the mixture just comes together in a ball, being careful not to overwork the dough.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and flatten to form a disk. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight. (Note: The dough may be frozen and then thawed in the refrigerator for later use.)
In a bowl, soak the bread pieces in the milk. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet and add the onion. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the ground meat and sauté until golden brown, breaking up chunks of the meat with a fork, as needed. Add the chili pepper, mix well, and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato, mix well and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the curry powder and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the green seasoning, mixing well. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Remove the meat mixture from the heat and place in a bowl to cool.
Once the meat mixture is cool, squeeze the excess liquid from the milk-soaked bread and add it to the meat mixture. Mix very well.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Dust a work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out the pastry to ⅛ inch thick, sprinkling with additional flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Use a pastry brush to dust away any excess flour. Cut circles from the dough using a 5-inch round pastry cutter. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the meat mixture on the center of each round. Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg and fold in half covering the filling. Use a fork to crimp the edges of each patty closed.
Brush the top of each patty with the reserved annatto oil. Using a fork, poke a few air vents in the top of each patty. Place the patties on an ungreased baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes so that the butter in the crust becomes firm. (Once baked the butter will melt and release steam to create a flaky crust.)
© 2018 All rights reserved. Published by Hippocrene Books.