Jamaican beef patties are popular flaky pastries commonly filled with a combination of ground beef, onions, garlic, and spices. They represent the rich cultural and historical significance of Jamaica through the combination of various ingredients and techniques. Often tinted yellow from turmeric or egg yolk and featuring a spicy curried beef, the pastries are traditionally served with coco bread and considered a full meal. Beef patties are easy to make at home. You only need a few ingredients and cook time is minimal. However, they can also be easily found at Jamaican grocery stores and restaurants.
The Rich History of the Jamaican Beef Patties
The exact origin of Jamaican beef patties is unclear. Nevertheless, colonialism, slavery, and migration are its historical roots. The patty’s shape mirrors that of turnovers introduced by European colonists. However, Indian indentured servants introduced the cumin and other curry components that flavor the meat filling. The cayenne pepper is most likely attributable to African slaves, and the scotch bonnet pepper is native to Jamaica.
In the 1960s and ’70s, Jamaican immigrants brought the patties to many major U.S. and European metropolitan areas. The pastries quickly gained popularity within the mainstream public. Today, you can find a variety of inexpensive premade or frozen patties in most typical grocery or convenience stores. In Jamaica, the most popular premade varieties are Juici and Tastee Patties. In the U.S., Tower Isle’s and Golden Krust are popular brands. What’s more, in Bronx, New York they even celebrate an annual “National Jamaican Patty Day.” Due to their increased global exposure, traditional beef patty recipes have evolved to include many different variations. Furthermore, you can even find vegetarian and vegan renditions of the popular savory pie.
How to Prepare Jamaican Beef Patties at Home
Crust and filling are the two components of traditional Jamaican beef patties. Consequently, you will start by making your crust dough, then you will cook the beef filling. After you complete both steps and the filling has cooled, you will assemble the ingredients and bake the finished pastries. When adding spices and other flavor agents to the filling, add gradually and taste to accommodate your own preferences. For a milder version, omit the scotch bonnet and cayenne peppers.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour.
- 2 tablespoons curry powder.
- 1 egg.
- 1 teaspoon salt.
- 1/4 tablespoon turmeric.
- 1 pound ground beef.
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
- 2 tablespoons of butter.
- 1 chopped onion.
- 2 tablespoons crushed garlic.
- 1/4 cup of butter or margarine.
- 1/4 cup shortening.
- 1/3 cup water.
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper.
- 1 cup beef broth.
- 2/3 bread crumbs.
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme.
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper.
- Combine flour, salt, turmeric, and curry powder in a medium mixing bowl.
- Add shortening and butter.
- Mix to combine.
- In a separate bowl, combine egg and water.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
- Mix until a solid dough forms.
- Form the dough into a ball or log.
- Place the dough in the refrigerator to chill.
Heat remaining butter in a large saucepan.
Add diced onions, chopped scotch bonnet pepper, and garlic.
Saute on medium heat until onion becomes transparent.
Add ground beef, beef broth, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and thyme.
Lower heat and let simmer until meat is fully cooked (about 20 minutes).
Let filling cool and drain any remaining liquid.
Assembling and Cooking Steps
- Divide dough into golfball sized portions.
- Roll out portions until 1 cm in thickness.
- Cut out circles.
- Spoon meat filling onto one side of circle.
- Fold in half and press a fork along the sides to seal.
- Continue until all dough and filling are used up.
- Place in a single layer on baking sheet and cook in preheated oven till the pastries begin to brown (about 20 minutes).
Where Can You Try the Jamaican Beef Patties?
Consider trying a Jamaican beef patty at a restaurant near you. Your best bet is to visit a city with a large West Indian population. What’s more, fresh, restaurant quality patties aren’t expensive and offer a more genuine taste profile. For those in the New York metropolitan area, Kingston Tropical is a family-run operation in the Bronx that offers a popular variety for just under two dollars.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Jamaica, visit Juici Patties in Ocho Rios. The menu includes a variety of options. Moreover, it will be one of the best and cheapest meals you eat in Jamaica.
Jamaican beef patties are an inexpensive, filling, and will satisfy your craving for Jamaican or Caribean food. The handful of ingredients exposes the complicated past of Jamaica, from the influence of European colonists to the presence of African slaves and East Indian indentured servants. Furthermore, they have taken on a life of their own through the immigration of Jamaicans abroad. If you’re traveling to Jamaica, don’t leave the island without stopping at one of the island’s popular patty joints. Nonetheless, if you don’t have the luxury of travel, it is easy enough to make them in a home kitchen.
Have you recently visited tried Jamaican beef patties for the first time or stumbled upon an excellent version? Let us know about your experience.