Jamaican patties

We’re two thirds into December and I’m feeling the need to vary my beer snacks. I turned to Peckham for inspiration.

Bright yellow patties stack up high in shop windows but most of them have been pre-made and frozen. They always look jaded and sad to me but I could see the potential so I had a bash myself. The primary stuffing is minced beef (fish and vegetable fillings are also common) wrapped in the easiest flaky crust, stained yellow with turmeric and curry powder.

Jamaican patties are a product of English colonialism and East Indian migration into the Caribbean: the former brought the idea of pastry while Indian slaves brought cumin. Both mix well with the Caribbean flavours: thyme, spring onion, scotch bonnet pepper and allspice.

The patties are highly savoury and perfect if you’re growing tired of snacking on mince pies, deep fried brown things and crisps, as I am. The way to eat a Jamaican patty is to pick it up and dunk it gleefully into your favourite hot sauce. Wash it down with a Red Stripe.

Jamaican Patties (makes 8-10)

For the crust

250g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
125g fridge cold butter, cubed
5-6 tablespoons cold water
1 egg, beaten

For the filling (I have a bee in my bonnet about doing a slow-cooked goat filling next time).

250g minced beef
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon thyme leaves
5 spring onions, finely chopped
1/2 scotch bonnet chilli, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 tin chopped tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 170C

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable or groundnut oil in a pan and add the ginger, garlic and chilli for 30 seconds. Add the beef and cook until brown. Add the spices and stir for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, spring onions and thyme and let simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring every so often, until nearly all the liquid has evaporated.

While the beef is simmering, make the crust. Sift the flour, turmeric, curry powder and salt into a bowl. Add the cubes of butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mix resembles fine crumbs. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water (add another if it’s too stiff) until you have a stiff dough then turn it out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead until smooth. Do not over work the dough, knead it just enough until it is smooth.

Grease two large baking trays. Roll out the dough until a few millimetres thick and use a saucer to cut circles from it – as many as you can. You can re-roll the trimmings to get more circles. Lay the circles on the baking tray (they will be too hard to move once filled) and brush the edges of each with the beaten egg. Dollop some of the filling in the centre of each then fold over to form a patty. Seal the edges by crimping with a fork.

Brush the patties all over with more beaten egg and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with hot sauce and beer.

The crust recipe is adapted from the Waitrose website.

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13 thoughts on “Jamaican patties

  1. Wow! My family enjoyed this. Especially my parents, now I hope I can use the oven at home. If my parents trust me????

  2. made these patties for my dads carribean barbeque. went down a treat
    couldnt believe the response AMAZING. The crowd want more more more!!!!!
    There still waiting for the next batch, maybe a while as took me ages but well worth it.

  3. Christmas leftovers update: 12 turkey patties made with finely chopped roast turkey were a huge success. Could’ve done with the fruity heat of the Scotch bonnet (had to use chilli powder due to being in The Wilds Outside London), but they were a hit.

  4. Chris – Well I do love a bit of Encona I have to say! I’m currently still searching for the perfect hot sauce. I’ve just ordered one actually – someone has sworn to me it is the most fruity scotch bonnet flavoured hot sauce they have ever tasted. Although with the current postal nightmare I probably won’t receive it until February.

  5. I do like a nice pattie, although I tend to turn to saltfish rather than beef.

    If you ever come to Dalston in search of teff flour I’ll point you in the direction of my favourite patty shop. They make them all in house and the pastry is so light and flaky, something I’ve failed to achieve in my home-made attempts.

  6. I used to get a lamb patty and a beef patty every Friday night from Mr Jerk on Wardour Street to line the stomach before the evening’s boozing. They were a massive stodgefest and did the job perfectly; these look much better than them.

    I also found a man selling awesome patties in Nicaragua – the next day I stalked the island looking for him, alas not to be found. So you could say I like patties. These are definitely getting made.

  7. Helen, we have a sizeable Jamaican community here in Toronto, have tasted good and not so good patties. Your patties look really good, must try my hand at some.


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