Why You Shouldn't Over-Blend Your Jamaican Beef Patty Filling

You might typically pick up a box of frozen Jamaican patties as a quick snack, but there's a case for making a batch from scratch at home. If you haven't taken a bite of a Jamaican patty, the handheld food encapsulates the island's cuisine with spices and minced meat like beef or lamb wrapped in a flaky empanada-like crust. Think of it as the country's answer to empanadas commonly served in Argentina or Colombia. When you go to make them in your kitchen, however, there's one crucial mistake to avoid and it's in the form of over-blending the filling for the patties.

To avoid this mishap, take the advice of Tasting Table recipe developer Leah Maroney, who is behind our baked Jamaican beef patties. You'll want to blend the beef filling and crackers, preferably in a blender or food processor, but Maroney cautions not to overdo it — or the meat mixture will turn into a paste. That means all of the effort for a flavorful and crumbly filling will lose its texture and nobody wants puree inside of a patty. Another downside is that over-mixed meat could dry it out.

Take it easy with just a few pulses for beef patty filling

The beef patty filling consists of a few other ingredients to obtain the ultimate flavor and texture. You'll want the right type of meat, so consider these tips for buying ground beef. Before you worry about over-mixing the beef, cook it off in a pan over medium-high heat. After it's browned, add a blend of seasonings, sliced onions, garlic, Scotch bonnet pepper for heat, and crushed crackers. You can also swap the crackers with breadcrumbs if that's what's in the kitchen. Now, it's time for the blender or food processor. The key is to pulse the beef mixture with the crackers of breadcrumbs just enough to combine everything. It only takes six to eight pulses according to some recipes so don't overdo it.

By adding the mixture to a blender or processor, you ensure all of the ingredients are combined and reach a fine consistency. However, it's not the only option if you're worried about overdoing it, don't have a blender, or don't want to dirty more dishes. Add the breadcrumbs directly to the pan and let it soak up the juices, or use your hands to incorporate the ingredients. If you use your hands, don't over-mix it or you could force the juiciness of the filling out of the patties. When it's time to assemble, use an empanada maker to create the beef patties to make it easier and faster.