a Jamaican Beef Patty

CHEF JOHN: “I Want To Eat All The Jamaican Beef Patties”

From the streets of Jamaica to your plate, learn about the spicy and flavorful world of Jamaican Beef Patties!

Over ten years ago, when I was a chef, we had Jamaican Beef Patties as a hors d’oeuvre option for weddings that we would cater. They were trendy, and I loved them! 

That memory popped back up recently, and suddenly, I needed to eat them again. And it’s no coincidence that National Jamaican Patty Day is only 121 days away (the first Saturday in August). That’s a joke, but it does give you enough time to fall in love with these beautiful pastries and learn how to make them, so let’s do that. 

Let’s start with what a Jamaican beef patty is. 

It is a half-moon-shaped flaky pastry filled with beef but can also created with other meats. 

Upon researching these, I found 20 different recipes before realizing that the only thing that may make them authentic is that they are typically spicy, and turmeric is the main spice used in the recipe. 

The turmeric gives this buttery, flaky, amazing dough its yellow color. 

Other than that, whoever makes them with love can call their beef patty authentic. 

Jamaicans and immigrants from the UK and Africa influenced Jamaican beef patties. The different migrants had their influence on the dish, adding their own flair. 

The patties then became popular in North America around the ’60s as Jamaicans immigrated north. In New York, they began to pop up on restaurants’ menus. They became popular street food, and at one point Canada attempted to stop street cart merchants from using the term patty since the term referred to a burger patty and the Jamaican beef patty is more a turnover. With some pushback, Canada finally dropped their attempt to ban the term “patty” in 1985 and compromised to allow the term “Jamaican Patty” to be used. I don’t care what you call them. I want to eat all the Jamaican beef patties.

We’re about to get to the recipe, but let’s discuss ingredients and some how-to first. 

The heat comes from scotch bonnets. Scotch bonnets are peppers that have quite a bit of heat, but also a bit of a sweet fruity type of flavor profile. 

Unfortunately, after checking three stores, I could not find them and substituted the scotch bonnets for habaneros. They don’t have the same flavor profile, but for this recipe it is a suitable replacement. 

The recipe would also fare better with Jamaican curry, but alas, I could not find it, so I am substituting it for curry powder found at any of our local grocers. 

This recipe will include instructions on how to make the pastry dough, but if you’d like to skip this part, you could buy premade pastry dough sheets from the store. 

The only thing with doing this is that you won’t have the turmeric incorporated into the crust. You could add a dash of turmeric to the meat mixture while making it to ensure you get some of that great flavor in there. 

You can mince the onion, garlic, and peppers with a knife, but I prefer using a food processor to puree these ingredients, which evenly spreads all the flavor throughout the meat filling. 

It’s also much quicker! 

You cannot cut corners if you decide to make the dough from scratch. You should take the time that you need to prepare it. Once the dough is formed, it must be wrapped and refrigerated for at least one hour. It requires time to harden and come together. Since it is a butter-based dough, if it gets too warm, it will not perform the way it is intended to. Once the hour has passed, the dough must sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Again, no skipping this timeframe. The 15 minutes takes the chill off the dough and allows you to work with it and roll it out.  

 

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Jamaican Beef Patty

Beef filling:

Ground beef 1 lb

Garlic 1 tbsp

Onion, yellow 1 cup 

Scotch bonnet 2 each

Olive oil 4 tbsp

Dried thyme 1 tsp

Ground allspice ½ tsp

Curry powder 1 tbsp

Paprika 1 tsp

Ketchup 2 tbsp

Beef stock 1 cup

Plain breadcrumbs ½ cup

Salt to taste

Ground black pepper to taste

 

Pastry dough:

All purpose flour 1 ½ cups

Salt 1 tsp

Turmeric 2 tsp

Sugar 1 tsp

Egg 1 each

Unsalted butter, cold ¼ lb (1 stick)

Ice water as needed

 

Pastry dough method of preparation:

 

  1. In a food processor place the flour, salt, turmeric, sugar, and diced butter.
  2. Pulse until the mixture becomes crumbly from the butter. 
  3. Add the egg and pulse until the egg is incorporated.
  4. Turn the food processor on and through the top splash in a touch of water. At this point the splash should pull it all together and it should ball up into a dough ball.  If it is still separated add another touch of water until it does.
  5. Take dough and shape into a small circle (not a sphere) about an inch thick. 
  6. Gently wrap with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 1 hour, or longer. Up to one day.
  7. Remove from fridge and allow to rest on countertop at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  8. Roll out into about an 18”x18” shape. 
  9. Using a 4 ½” ring mold press out the circles used to wrap around the meat filling. This should make about 13 meat pies.

 

Meat filling:

 

  1. Using 2 tablespoons of the olive oil sautee the onion, garlic, and peppers in medium high heat for approximately 5 minutes.
  2. Add the ground beef to the pan and season with a little salt and pepper.  Using a wood spoon constantly press and break up the ground beef. You want the beef as fine as you can break it up.
  3. Sautee until the beef is cooked through then add the rest of the ingredients except for the breadcrumbs. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to very low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.  
  5. At the end of the 15 minutes add the breadcrumbs and fold into the meat mixture. It will absorb the moisture in the mix.
  6. Refrigerate.

 

To assemble:

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375*F.
  2. Take a bout 1 ½ tbsp of the mix and place in the middle of the dough circle.  Fold over into the half circle/moon shape and use a fork to press the edges together. Place on a baking pan.
  3. Using an egg (not in the recipes above) and a splash of water create an egg wash with a whisk. Brush over the tops of the meat patties.
  4. Bake at 375*F for 20 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

 

*Notes: The 2 habaneros give it good heat. If you want it spicier you could add a third. If you want less spice, you can remove the peppers all together.  The meat filling recipe is enough to fill twice the dough recipe.  If you want to use up all of the meat filling double the dough recipe.

John Sallman is the Broker/Owner of Salt and Light Realty and a regular contributor to Midbaynews.com. In addition to serving others as a realtor in the Niceville and Valparaiso areas, Sallman is a world class chef, with more than a decade of experience in the finest restaurants along the Emerald Coast. 

Sallman, a Niceville resident since childhood, has experience in all types of real estate transactions. His brokerage specializes in sales and property management. reach out to him today at John@saltandlightrealty.com. 

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