Is there anything more comforting than the smell of buttery pastry baking away on a cold winter’s day? Winter is definitely my favorite time of year to make puff pastry and laminated doughs, so here we are with another way to use that rough puff pastry from the raspberry palmiers recipe. But this time we’re going savory with these curry beef puffs, inspired by the Asian pastries often found on dim sum carts or in Chinese bakeries.
Crisp and flaky with a luscious curry filling, these little hand pies make a great portable snack or light lunch, and are a welcome addition to any party. The best part about making these guys at home is that you can really pack that filling in, because IMO there’s nothing worse than ordering one of these and getting only half a bite of curry. To be honest I probably overstuff mine just a bit, but as long as you can seal and crimp the edges well you shouldn’t have too much problems with overflow.
A few notes:
- I really like using boxed curry roux blocks instead of curry powder for the filling; to me the flavor is better and they contain cornstarch which also helps thicken the filling. Curry roux blocks are easily found in Asian supermarkets. You can probably substitute curry powder (I’d start with 3-4 Tbsp), but you may need to add a cornstarch slurry to help thicken the filling.
- For best results, make sure to thoroughly chill your pastries before baking. The pastry should be firm to the touch — about 10-15 minutes in the freezer for me.
- While these are best the day they’re made, they recrisp well in a 350F oven or the toaster. I suspect you could also freeze some unbaked ones and bake straight from frozen; you may need a little longer on the baking time.
Curry Beef Puffs
Makes about 18-24 puffs
- One full recipe rough puff pastry (or one box/two sheets, storebought and defrosted in the fridge overnight)
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 medium carrot, shredded
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2-3 slices of fresh ginger
- 2 small (1.5″ or 60g) blocks Japanese curry mix (use whatever spiciness level you prefer)
- 1/2 c – 1 c water
- soy sauce, to taste
- sugar, to taste
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water or milk, for egg wash
- In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium high. When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic and ginger. Season with a little soy sauce and sugar and saute until onion is softened, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the ground beef, using your wooden spoon or spatula to break up the meat. Cook until the beef is no longer pink, stirring frequently.
- Add the grated carrot, curry cubes, and 1/2 c water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the onions are completely soft and the mixture is thick, about 30 minutes. If the mixture starts to look dry or the onions don’t seem to be breaking down, add a tablespoon of water (I usually add about two more tablespoons during the simmering process).
- Turn off the heat and check for seasonings, adding salt / sugar / pepper to taste. The filling should be just on the edge of too salty in order to cut through the rich pastry.
- Cool to room temperature, remove the ginger slices, then cover and refrigerate until cold.
- When the filling is cooled and you are ready to assemble, preheat the oven to 400F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Remove one half (or one sheet) of puff pastry from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into a large square about 12-13″ on each side. Trim the edges to neaten, then cut the sheet into 9-12 equal pieces, depending on what size puffs you want (I like to cut each sheet into twelve 4″ squares, which makes a nice appetizer size).
- Transfer the squares to one of the parchment-lined sheets and chill while you repeat step 7 with the remaining pastry.
- Remove the filling and 2-3 squares of pastry from the refrigerator (keep the rest of the pastry chilled — I find it’s easiest to work with only a few squares at a time). Brush the edges of one square with a bit of egg wash. Place a heaping Tbsp of filling in the center of the pastry. Fold the top left corner down to meet the bottom right corner to form a triangle (or you can fold them in half for rectangular pastries, if you prefer). Use a fork to crimp the edges.
- Once you’ve completed half the pastries, transfer the sheet of filled pastries to the freezer while you finish filling the rest.
- Once the first sheet of pastries is chilled (the pastry should be firm), remove from the freezer. Brush the tops with egg wash and prick with a fork to create steam holes. Transfer the second sheet of pastries to the freezer.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking, until pastries are golden brown and puffed. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes before consuming. Repeat with second sheet of pastries.