Kitchen Witch - Taste of the islands

Jamaican Beef Patties

Years ago, I spent some time in Barbados, and I owe many of my tropical adventures to one Rosemary Parkinson, cookbook author and Caribbean know-it-all. A few years later, Parkinson moved to Jamaica, which she’s decided is her true home.

I haven’t seen her in five years, but after reading a new book on Jamaican goodies (see title below) and the May issue of Bon Appetit magazine, which is entirely devoted to the Caribbean, the tasty memories bubbled to the top and I immediately called her.

It turns out Parkinson is busy at work on a food book, Nyam Jamaica (Macmillan London), to be published this fall. As a toast to her new venture, I prepared beef patties, the quintessential Jamaican snack food. Savory, curried pastry dough encloses a spicy and generously seasoned meat filling that satisfies the soul and makes everything irie. You’ll see.

Jamaican Beef Patties

Adapted from Lucinda’s Authentic Jamaican Kitchen by Lucinda Scala Quinn and Culinaria the Caribbean by Rosemary Parkinson


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), diced

3/4 cup ice-cold water

1 egg, with 2 teaspoons water, for glazing

• Combine flour, salt, baking powder and curry powder in a large mixing bowl. Add butter and, using fingertips or a fork, cut into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.

• Gradually add water and toss gently with hands to combine, until dough just forms a ball. Don’t overmix; dough will become tough.

• Flatten dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.


1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 scallions, cleaned, white parts only, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Scotch bonnet chile peppers, seeded and minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme or fresh sprigs, leaves pulled

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

Oil spray for greasing pan

• Heat oil in a large skillet until hot and add beef, onion, scallions, garlic, chili peppers and thyme. Brown meat and let liquid evaporate, about 8 minutes. Add curry powder, allspice, salt and pepper, and stir to combine, allowing crust to form in pan.

• Add water and stir mixture, scraping bottom to loosen crust. Add bread crumbs, stir. Consistency should be thick and mushy. Cover, reduce heat to low. Cook about 15 minutes. If meat gets too dry, add water, cooking until absorbed. Remove from heat, let cool.

• Preheat oven to 400.

• Dust work surface with flour. Unwrap dough and allow to warm. Gently pound dough with rolling pin and roll to about 1/8-inch thick. Using a small saucer, cut dough into circles about 7 inches in diameter. Place 1 tablespoon filling in center of circle. Brush egg glaze on edges and fold dough over filling until edges meet. Crimp edges until well-sealed. Brush glaze on top.

• Place patties on greased baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.

Culinary questions? Contact Kim O’Donnel at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.