Jamaican Beef Patties

2014-02-10 14.25.40

When my brother and I were little, our mum would buy those pre-cooked, pre-packaged beef patties that you stuck in the microwave. They always burned my mouth. But I’ve always loved them. There is something so intoxicating about pastry and beef and spices.

I found a recipe for beef patties on a site that has now been taken down. Luckily I saved the recipe, because my brother and I made up a batch of patties last weekend. We had a production line going: he would roll out the pastry, I would fill it and pinch the edges together. We churned out almost three dozen.

This version of Jamaican beef patties is much more substantial than the pre-packaged ones you find in the store. The beef paste isn’t paste, and the pastry crumbles in your mouth in delicious, buttery goodness. If you want to make the beef stretch further, you could try putting mashed potatoes and/or peas into the beef mixture. I’ve always wanted to try that, despite compromising the purity of the patty. 😉


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 lb lean lean ground beef, lamb, or goat
  • 1 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2–1 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1–5 green or red chili peppers (optional)

In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the ground beef, lamb, or goat and sauté until the meat is well browned and very finely minced (you will need to stir constantly to get the right texture—I use a potato masher to mince the meat finely). Add the spices and breadcrumbs and stir until the mixture coats the meat entirely. Let mixture cool COMPLETELY before using.

Make pastry.


  • 2 1/2 cups pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup butter , ice cold, cut into small (1/4 inch) cubes
  • 1/2 cup ice cold water

Divide dough into 10 equal portions. Roll each portion out on lightly floured surface to about 6 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick.

Once cooled, roll out all circles. Working quickly, fill one half of all ten pastries with 4oz of meat filling. Brush the edges with beaten egg or water and fold over on the filled half. Transfer to a baking sheet with a large spatula, and using a floured fork, crimp the edges of the pastry. Brush pastries with remaining egg. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Allow to cool for 5-8 minutes before serving.

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2012-12-21 19.56.31

I recently spent a week with my grandmother.

She is old. She wobbles when she walks. And her hands are losing strength more quickly than she would like. Consequently, she ends up eating a lot of frozen foods, forgoing health for convenience.

Not that I can blame her. Sometimes I have trouble making toast in the morning, let alone a meal that incorporates every possible food group (wine counts, right?). So when I offered to go spend a week with her and cook her some healthy meals, I naively assumed that she would actually LET me do the cooking. I ate so much processed cheese that now I’m even avoiding oranges. Let’s hope it’s a temporary aversion.

The one thing I did manage to make for her was a tourtière. Originally, I used this recipe from the Food Network, but I’ve tweaked it to meet my personal preferences. I generally like heavily spiced foods and I found the Food Network recipe to be too mild for my tastes.



  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold butter, chopped into bits
  • 1/2–1 cup cold water

Combine dry ingredients and add chopped butter. Mix butter into dry mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Large chunks of butter are ok (and even encouraged!). Add water 1 tbsp at a time until mixture holds together in a ball. Cut in half and refrigerate. Makes enough for 1 double-crust pie.



  • 1–1 1/2 cup mashed potatoes, sans butter
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs extra lean ground beef, pork, or combination
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup apple cider or beef stock*
  • 1/2 cup water, if needed
  • 1 egg for glazing (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook potatoes until well done. Mash roughly and set aside.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add enough butter to grease the bottom and sauté onions and garlic until translucent and fragrant. Add ground meat and cook until no pink remains.

Once the meat has cooked, add the peas, the mushrooms, and all the spices at once. Stir until well combined and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the cider or beef stock and water (if needed) and the bay leaves and let sit until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the mashed potatoes to soak up the remaining liquid and set aside to cool.

While mixture is cooling, roll out pastry dough. Fill a 9-inch pie pan or springform pan with the filling and top with pastry and brush with egg. Make sure to cut steam holes in the top.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 40-60 minutes or until pastry is a golden brown. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

*One time, I was out of beef stock and apple cider, so I decided to use rum. It was delicious, but lacked in salt. If you use a low-sodium liquid, make sure to up the salt quotient.