When I was younger, there were certain periods when our family freezer in suburban Maryland would overflow with thin white pastry boxes of authentic island beef patties my mother had successfully smuggled past Air Jamaica checkpoints and U.S. customs. Throughout the year, this freezer stash was monitored like the Federal Reserve. While we might get lucky with a random restocking from a visiting Jamaican relative, no one could predict when nor how. Thus, patties were rationed out to household members like stock certificates. The only other time they surfaced from the arctic vault was for guests, special occasions or those rare instances when my mother was too exhausted to cook from scratch.
“Fast food” Jamaican-style.
When I became vegetarian in college, beef patties were suddenly off limits. Fortunately, the patty industry tried to keep up with evolving public tastes by offering veggie patties, so I turned to those whenever I got a craving.
Then, for health and training reasons, I started avoiding first white flour, and then wheat, gluten or other certain grain products. Things on the patty quest front grew silent. I knew I could find my pick of “beef” patty recipe substitutes that were either vegan, gluten-free OR Paleo, but not all three.
I’d have to create my own. No problem.
So that’s what I did this weekend, cobbling together bits and pieces from recipes found elsewhere, then putting my own spin on to bring it closer to the authentic texture I remembered as a kid. Throw in a vegan egg replacer as a binder, and I was good to go.
Before we get into the finished recipe, let me first give credit where due: vegan author Terry Bryant. His new book Afro-Vegan provided the core recipe titled Jamaican Patties Stuffed with Maque Choux. I made a few minor tweaks here and there, but by and large this is his brainchild, and a fantastic one at that. I met him at the recent DC VegFest, and I can’t say enough good things about his cookbook. It’s chock full of vegan recipes seasoned to perfection.
Back to the recipe hack. Because it contained gluten flour, I ditched Bryant’s pastry and made a few slight mods to his filling (substituting red peppers for green, using light coconut milk instead of full-fat, and adding minced Beyond Beef crumbles). Then I adapted a meat-based Paleo recipe I found online that featured a dough made of plantains instead of grain or other flour. Perfect. Well…almost. Because it also featured eggs as the binder, I had to ditch that part in favor of a chia seed-and-water mix to hold the thing together. (The chia seeds need to be ground into a powder first).
Note that the end result is a crust more dense and chewy than a traditional flour-based pastry, which is to be expected because…well, there’s no flour. Or egg. (If you’d like a flakier crust, feel free to substitute any number of traditional grain-based crust recipes.) As a trade off, this worked perfectly for me, as I’d been searching forever for a good flour-less crust option. With regards to reheating, I tested both a frozen and refrigerated version in my HotLogic Mini, and each came out equally great. It’s good to know I can freeze large batches at will, with a patty ready to pull out at a moment’s notice.
Just like Mom.
- 4 green plantains
- 2 Tbsp. white chia seeds, ground into a meal (use blender or spice grinder) and mixed with 6 Tbsp water, set aside in a bowl
- 1 tsp.salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- 1 tsp. turrneric powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. coconut oil + 2 tsp coconut oil
- ½ cup finely diced red onion
- ¼ cup finely diced green or red pepper
- ½ tsp. minced seeded habanero chile
- 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
- ½ tsp. cumin seed powder
- ½ tsp. allspice powder
- ⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1¼ cups sweet corn kernels (from about 2 ears of corn)
- ½ cup peeled, seeded and finely diced heirloom tomato
- ¾ cup light coconut milk
- ½ tsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 package Beyond Beef crumbles
- Warm 2 tsp. of the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.
- Add the onion, bell pepper, habanero, salt, cumin, allspice, cinnamon, and cayenne and sauté until the onion and bell pepper are very soft, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Stir in the corn, tomato, and coconut milk.
- Decrease the heat to low, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, in another pan gently heat the remaining 2 tsp of coconut oil and add the frozen Beyond Beef crumbles. Break apart with a fork and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Mash the beef crumbles to a fine consistency, then set aside.
- Stir the lime juice and thyme into the corn mixture and cook until warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the minced Beyond Beef crumbles to the corn mixture. Mix well.
- Season with black pepper, more salt (if desired) and additional lime juice, to taste.
- Cut the plantains in half and boil for 15 minutes to help remove the skin.
- Drain and remove the plantain skin, then return to a boil for 20 minutes (or until soft).
- Take the plantains out of the water and allow to cool for 15 minutes, then combine them with chia seed mixture and spices into a food processor to make a 'dough.'
- Remove from food processor and separate the dough into 8 equal portions.
- Flatten each dough ball between two pieces of parchment paper with a rolling pin, to about ¼ inch thick.
- Place about 1 Tbsp of the beef crumbles-and-corn-mixture into the middle of the dough.
- Carefully fold the dough up and over so that it makes a semi-circle and press the edges down with your fingers to close the edges. If you want, tap fork tines quickly and gently along the sealed edges to give the edges a "lined" appearance.
- Line a cookie sheet with more parchment paper, place the patties on it and put them into a preheated ocean at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Serve warm. Store leftovers in refrigerator or freezer.