How to make a Jamaican patty

Written by grace cameron
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How to make a Jamaican patty
The Jamaican patty is like the British pasty. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

A patty is to Jamaicans what fish and chips are to Brits, or pizza to Italians. The crusty, crescent-shaped pastry filled with meat or vegetables is a national obsession eaten at lunch, for Sunday brunch, and as late morning or mid-afternoon snacks. Thought to have originated during English colonisation of the island, Jamaican patty started with beef filling but now runs the gamut from chicken, vegetables, beans, fish and lobster. Whatever the filling, patty connoisseurs swear that the secret to a true Jamaican patty lies in a flaky crust.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 500 g (4 cups) flour
  • 2 tsp ground, dried turmeric or annatto or chicken or fish
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 113 g (1 cup) butter softened
  • 3 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil or yellow cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh hot peppers, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 4 sprigs chives, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 454 g (1 lb) prime ground beef (substitute chicken)
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric or annatto
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground all spice (pimento)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • Salt and pepper to taster
  • 118 ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 1 tbsp brown (optional)
  • For the glaze
  • 2 egg yolks, well beaten

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  1. 1

    Make the pastry by sifting the flour, turmeric and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and mix well with fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in enough of the water to form a dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for two hours. Remove 15 minutes before ready to use.

    How to make a Jamaican patty
    A patty and a box drink make for an inexpensive Jamaican lunch. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Heat the oil for the filling in a large saucepan. Fry the onion, garlic, hot pepper, thyme, chives, parsley and tomatoes until soft. Add the meat and all other spices and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add water and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes until all liquid has evaporated and the meat is browned. Add rum, if using, just before removing the saucepan from the stove. Let cool.

  3. 3

    Preheat the oven to 204 degrees C (400 degrees F). Roll out the dough and cut into 20 cm (8 inch) circles about 3 mm (1/8 inch) thick. Place 3 tbsp of the cooled meat mixture on one side of each circle, fold the other half over so that the edges meet. Moisten the edges with water and crimp together with a fork until sealed. Place the patties on a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with the beaten egg yolks and bake in the centre of the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown, and serve hot. This recipe makes 18 patties.

  4. 4

    Skip the butter and use beef suet instead to make a flakier and true Jamaican patty crust. Use 340 g (12 oz) of suet instead of the softened butter.

Tips and warnings

  • Use suet at room temperature for best results and ensure that the oven is preheated to the correct temperature.
  • Talk to your butcher if you have problems finding suet. You can substitute beef drippings, chicken or pork fat for suet.

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