Several years ago I went on a Caribbean cruise with a stop in Jamaica. It was a quick stop and I really, really, really, wanted to go on this agricultural tour, so I signed up since I’m a total geek when it comes to things like that (I love anything that involves a working plantation where they show you how they harvest crops). I’m a sucker for it-I Love it. It did not disappoint. I was able to see trees of cocoa pods, allspice trees, and various other tropical fruits and plants. After our tour we were taken to another part of the island to have a catered lunch which had Jamaican meat patties as part of the spread. OMG, where had these little beauties been all my life. Well- duh- they were in Jamaica. I needed these in my life. Eventually of course I forgot about them until fast forward, years later when I came across an actual recipe for them by chef Lucinda Scala Quinn. You may know her by the show Mad Hungry. She apparently spent quite a bit of time in Jamaica in her day and her cookbook-which I checked out from the library has some amazing authentic recipes. I did tweak the recipe slightly by adding a pinch of cinnamon, a little more salt than her recipe, and ended up using empanada premade dough rounds found in a Hispanic market, but I’ve included her original recipe for her dough here.
Jamaican Meat Pies “Patties”
recipe: slightly adapted from Lucinda Scala’s Cookbook: “Lucinda’s Authentic Jamaican Kitchen”
Pastry: recipe from original recipe which I did not use*
*Full disclosure- I used store bought Goya empananda dough rounds-which I found in a Hispanic market in the frozen food section. They worked perfectly! They came 12 in a package- which ended up working to use exactly all of my filling. If you can find them it saves a lot of time, but here is the original recipe for the pastry.
2 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 Cup butter (1 stick)
3/4 Cup ice-cold water
(optional: 2 Tbsp. curry powder- I personally would omit this– it’s part of the original recipe) by Lucinda (I’m not a huge fan of curry and I thought the curry in the filling was suffice)
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and (optional curry) in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl. Working quickly; using fingertips, squeeze together the flour mixture and butter and toss together by scooping under the mixture with both hands. When mixture resembles a very coarse meal, add the water to the bowl. With floured hands, mix and squeeze the dough just until it forms a ball. Knead it once or twice to combine it fully (avoid too much kneading). Form the dough into 2 pieces, flattening each into a thick pancake shape. Wrap in plastic and set them in the fridge to chill for at least 15 minutes. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before using it.
Roll out each dough round on a lightly floured surface and cut 4 3/4 inch sized rounds. (This is the size of the Goya empanada rounds I found and thought the size was perfect).
Place a large spoonful of the cooled filling on one side of the dough round, and using a clean finger, paint water around the border. Fold over the opposite side of the dough; being careful to press out any air bubbles and press to crimp. Use the tines of a fork to crimp to seal. The patties may be frozen at this point and saved to bake off later. To bake: brush with egg wash, sprinkle with (optional) a little bit of kosher salt, and bake in a preheated oven at 400° F. for about 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Egg wash: one egg whisked together with 1 Tbsp. water.
1 lb. ground beef (I used 90 % lean)
1 small-medium onion, diced
3 scallions, chopped fine (white and green parts)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Habanero peppers, seeded, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. curry powder
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cinnamon
2 Cups water
1/2 Cup plain (dried) bread crumbs
1. In a large bowl mix the beef, onion, scallions, garlic, peppers and thyme. In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat and add the beef mixture. Fry until the meat is browned and the moisture is evaporated. Add the curry powder, salt, black pepper, and cinnamon, stirring constantly and allowing a crust to form somewhat on the bottom of the pan; scraping frequently to avoid burning. Add the water and stir the mixture, scraping the bottom to incorporate any browned crust. Add the bread crumbs and stir. Cover, and reduce heat to very low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the meat mixture to a bowl and allow to cool, refrigerate if you plan to assemble the pies on a separate day.