One of our ongoing projects here at Feed Me…I’m Hungry is our ‘World Food Tour’ where we take time to find out more about culture and food from around the world. Right now we’re checking out the island cuisine of Jamaica so read on for more…
So I’m ready to get back to the World Food Tour, though I’ve decide to structure things a little differently. From now on you can expect to see Food Tour posts mixed in which other types of posts about once a week or so. Meanwhile, I’ve decided to move on to somewhere of personal significance to me, Jamaica! My Dad’s side of the family comes from Jamaica and Haiti. My Grandfather has done some family history research and we can also trace branches of the family back to Lebanon and Scotland. Kind of electric. But my Dad and Uncle were actually born in Jamaica and came to the US as kids. The family settled in New York City. And later my parents moved out to Colorado where I was born. (My Mom really misses some favorite foods from NYC like bagels, NY style cheesecake, and proper NY style pizza which we haven’t ever really found in CO, so we’ll have to work on that at some point too!)
My Dad has a lot of neat memories of Jamaica as a kid. He’s told me of being sent outside to play in the morning and biking the length of the island with friends, returning only at the end of the day for dinner. He remembers being free to run, climb, play on the beach, and generally romp all around the island. He remembers picking ripe mangos right out of the trees for lunch. And he remembers coming home to find my Grandma making Jamaican patties for dinner. (Update 7/17/16: As you can see in the comments, I stand corrected, it wouldn’t be possible for a kids to travel the length of Jamaica in a day. Perhaps this is one of those exaggerated family stories? Perhaps I miss-remember the telling as a kid. Who knows?)
Jamaican patties are big, vibrant yellow (sometimes even violently yellow), half moons, stuffed with a well seasoned spicy ground beef mixture. Cumin, red pepper, and onion are among the traditional seasonings. The bright yellow crust comes from turmeric in the dough. The texture is kind of like a flaky pie crust. If you’ve ever had an Emapnada you’ll find patties to be similar in texture and construction, if not flavor. In Jamaica patties are eaten for pretty much any meal of the day, breakfast included. They are also often paired with coco bread to make a fuller meal. (Actually you make a sandwich with the patty and the coco bread by opening up the bread and stuffing the patty inside.) Which I suppose makes no sense as patties already have a carby crust. But really can you object to extra bread/carbs? I think not.
Once the family ended up in NYC my Grandma stopped making the patties at home since they could be purchased inexpensively, fresh made, from vendors in the city. (If you live in NYC and haven’t tried a Jamaican Patty get on it!) When I was a little kid visiting my Grandparents in NY they always took me to purchase patties. We would have patties for dinner or even breakfast several times while I was in town.
Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge there is nowhere in Colorado where you can buy Jamaican patties! Lucky for me patties freeze extremely well. For years my very sweet Grandparents have purchased patties in NY, frozen them, and mailed them on dry ice, to both my parents and I, so we can get our fix out here! (Update 7/17/16: I have discovered that you CAN buy frozen patties, at the dollar store, of all places! Still this is the only place I’ve found them to purchase in my area after checking Sam’s, Walmart, etc. I also hear we have a Jamaican restaurant a little drive away from me, so I’ll have to check them out sometime soon. I assume they will serve patties.)
A while back my Grandparents moved out to Florida where proper Jamaican patties can not be found! Though you can buy Haitian cocktail patties. But they are really totally different so we can address them another time. I’ve been patty-less for a while now, so I’ve finally had to learn to make my own to get my fix! (Update 7/17/16: Ok, shouldn’t have knocked the entire state of Florida’s cooking skills. There are still no patties I consider awesome near my grandparents place, but I now have it on good authority that there are other locations in Florida where you can find a mighty fine patty. So if you live in Florida go eat some.)
Sadly, my grandmother no longer remembers her recipe, so I’ve had to cobble together a recipe the best I can based on tastes I remember. My mother in law, who loves a good cooking challenge helped me with project and we had a blast. As we worked on the recipe we took into account some practical considerations, such as ease of finding ingredients, or using the simplest method possible to create a crisp crust in my less then perfect home oven. So, this recipe may not be perfectly authentic but it does make a darn good patty, fairly similar to those I remember as a kid. Perhaps that means I should have have called these Jamaican inspired patties? But I feel like that sounds kinda silly. So, anyway, we’re going with plain ole’ Jamaican Patties.
I now pass on to you my Jamaican Patty recipe so that you too can delight in the wonders of hot patties whatever state you live in! Enjoy! (P.S. You will totally love me forever after you make these.)
- 8 tablespoons butter
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup water
- 4 teaspoons of turmeric
- 6-8 tablespoons of milk or cream (cream will yield a flakier crust)
- 2 tablespoons of butter or a splash of oil
- 1 large onion diced very fine
- 12 garlic cloves minced
- 9 scallion shoots diced fine (or green onion)
- 3 lb. ground beef (Use ground beef with a reasonable amount of fat. I recommend 80/20 or 85/15.)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 teaspoons turmeric
- 3 teaspoons cumin
- 3 teaspoons allspice
- 3 teaspoons cardamon
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper minced or 2 teaspoons red pepper
- 1 28oz can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 14 oz can beef broth or 14 oz homemade beef stock
- A small bowl of water to seal the dough
- 1 egg
- A splash of water
- 1. In the bowl of a large stand mixer add butter, flour, white wine, water, and turmeric. Mix on the dough setting using the dough hook until well combined. A coarse dough will form.
- 2. Add the milk or cream a tablespoon at a time mixing in-between. Continue to add cream until a smooth dough forms.
- 3. Remove the dough from the bowl and form two large balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
- 1. Heat a large sauté pan to medium high heat. Add the butter or a splash of oil. Add the onion, garlic, and scallions and sauté until the onion become translucent and the garlic browns. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
- 2. Add the ground beef to the pan and brown. Breaking up the meat with a spoon as you brown. Traditional Jamaican Patties actually have the meat broken up very fine. I personally prefer a more textured filling and do not break up the meat as much.
- 3. When the meat is browned add the thyme, turmeric, cumin, allspice, cardamon, parsley, and scotch bonnet (or red pepper). Stir well to mix in the spice.
- 4. Add the can of diced tomatoes and their juice to the pan and the beef broth. Stir well. Allow the mixture to come to a gentle boil. The mixture needs to cook down until all the liquid has evaporated from the pan. This can take quite a while. Stir periodically to prevent burning.
- 5. When the liquid has evaporated allow the meat to cool prior to assembling the patties.
- 1. Prepare the dough by making six inch circles.There are two possible method to prepare the dough. The first: Divide the dough into four sections. Use a rolling pin, roll out one section of dough at a time to about 1/8inch thickness. Use a knife to cut of six inch circles from the dough. Repeat until all the dough has been used up. OR The second: Divide the dough into one and one half inch balls. Using a tortilla press flatten each ball to about 1/8 inch thick six inch in diameter circles.
- 2. In the middle of each circle of dough place about 1/4 cup of meat filling (or as much meat as you can fit and still fold the dough in half and seal without losing filling out the edges). Fold the circles in half and seal the edges by lightly brushing with water and pushing together gently.
- 3. Place each patty on a foil lined baking sheet.
- 4. In a small bowl wish together an egg and a splash of water. Brush each patty with the egg mixture.
- 5. Bake the patties at 350* for 25-35 minutes until the dough is crisp and cooked through. Cool slightly before serving.
- 1. Turmeric stains everything (counters, fabric, your hands) really really easily. Be careful what you set your dough on, and wipe up anything that splatters quickly to prevent staining.
- 2. Jamaican Patties freeze really well. Place them in an air tight container or ziplock bag and freeze for up to two months. To defrost place in the oven at 350* until warm (About 10-15min).
- 3. The patty filling tastes absolutely fantastic over couscous if you end up with any leftovers.
- 4. This is a time consuming recipe. I find making the dough and filling in one day and assembling the next to be easiest. The dough can remain refrigerated if wrapped very tightly in the plastic wrap for up to a week.