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Jamaican Meat Patties

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    Posted: 21 March 2010 at 08:05

The beef patty is a product of colonialism and migration developed after the introduction of the English turnover in the Caribbean, mixed with cumin and curry seasonings of East Indian indentured servants in Jamaica and cayenne pepper from African slaves. "The firecracker taste of the Scotch bonnet, a hot pepper indigenous to Jamaica, sealed the flavor."

Jamaicans brought recipes for the patties northward in the 1960s and 1970s when many came to the United States as hospital orderlies, home health aides and nurses.

A Jamaican patty is a pastry that contains various fillings and spices baked inside a flaky shell, often tinted golden yellow with an egg yolk mixture or turmeric. It is made like a turnover but is more savory. As its name suggests, it is commonly found in Jamaica, and is also eaten in other areas of the Caribbean, such as Costa Ricas Caribbean coast.
With that said, and wonderful pictures from my Culinaria Caribbean cookbook, I set out to make these delicious packages of goodness:
Jamaican meat patties




4 cups flour

1 cup butter

1 tsp salt

2 tsp turmeric

Cold water, about ½ cup




2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion chopped

2 tsp chopped garlic

2 hot peppers, deseeded

½ cup parsley

28 oz can diced tomatoes (4 cups)

1 lb ground beef

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cumin

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp cardamom

1 tsp currypowder

2 beef bouillion cubes

Salt & pepper to taste

Here are some notes on how to make them, based on my preparation:
Chopped one onion, two deseeded fat jalapenos (didn't have any scotch bonnets) a half cup of parsley and one scallion. Mixed the flour, butter, salt and turmeric with my hands until it resembled breadcrumbs. The butter must be soft and room temp. Added a total of 1/2 cup COLD water, but 2 tablespoons at a time, to form a doughball. The amount of water will vary depending on flour type, room temp and humidity.
To make the filling, brown the ground meat, drain and set aside. Sautee the chopped vegs in 2 tbsp olive oil or butter, then when soft add the diced tomatoes and continue frying for about 5 minutes. Then add the meat and all the rest of the spices the recipe calls for. You will simmer this for about 1/2 hour over med-low heat until the moisture is gone and the meat soft.
Be careful towards the end! The water almost zips away in a flash. Make sure you stir this often. I went away just for a couple minutes in the other room, and came back to burning meat! I was lucky to catch it at the beginning and snatched the pot off the heat before it could scorch. I carefully removed the unburnt meat making sure I didn't take any of the scrapings at the bottom which would have given the filling a bad flavor. All was well though, and I was relieved! Close call, but it looked and smelled great!
Anyway, let the meat sit and cool off for about 30 to 45 minutes. You want it warm, but not hot enought to affect the dough. Roll out the dough and cut 10-inch or so circles; I used a tupperware lid. Divide the filling according to the pastry circles, shape them into oblong patties and then place them on one half of the dough, folding the other half over to cover. With a pastry brush and a beaten egg in a bowl, "paint" the egg wash around the dough to help seal the edges. Then paint the top of the patties as well.
Bake in a preheated oven at 400F for about 40 minutes or so. Pinch off a corner of the dough to test for doneness, it should taste cooked and flaky.
These smelled so, exotic, all the flavors coming together in a crazy-calypso-quilt of deliciousness! Of course for a full meal, they should be served with Jamaican red beans & rice.
With an ice storm blowing outside, what better meal than the tropical flavours of the warm caribbean island of Jamaica? We both loved the results and will make them again. Next time we will try seafood/shrimp filling for a different version of this island staple. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 March 2010 at 08:26
Home run out of the park, my friend! That is some serious Caribbean eats going there!
Very impressive!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 March 2010 at 02:56
Awesome work John!!
Go with your food!
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