Recipes

Patty party: How to cook the ultimate Jamaican comfort food

Jamaican patties can be filled with any number of combinations of spiced meats and vegetables.
Jamaican patties can be filled with any number of combinations of spiced meats and vegetables. For the Miami Herald

Lara Peterson was a little girl, 4 or 5 years old, when she first had a Jamaican patty, shaped like a star and filled with curry lobster.

“It kind of stuck with me forever,” Peterson said . “It was put in my hand. It was a patty, and it was delicious.”

Although she didn’t know it at the time, that lobster patty back in Jamaica would foreshadow Peterson’s future.

She has been the manager at Miami-based Sonia’s Patties for the past 27 years.

“When we introduced our lobster patty, it just brought back a flood of memories because it was so much like that patty,” Peterson said.

The Jamaican patty is simple: pastry, filling and spice.

It’s meant to be eaten outside, on the street, in a back yard, hurriedly at a desk or on a train. It’s comfort and flavor packed in a handheld, savory treat.

Jamaican patties bear a resemblance to the Cuban or Spanish empanada, the Indian samosa, the Chinese sou and the British pasty — all of which are a combination of dough and filling. The Jamaican patty is descendant of the British pasty, with a tinge of Indian and Spanish influence.

“The difference is in the filling, which is more spiced. You’re looking at a flakier pastry shell and a spicer filling,” Peterson said.

Jamaican patties are traditionally baked in half-moon shapes. It turns out Peterson’s first was a special patty for more than one reason.

And just as that first curry lobster patty caught a little girl’s attention back in Jamaica, patty shops stateside have found a following in Miami.

“Everybody loves patties now,” said Nadine Patrice, co-owner of Miami-based Palatino Jamaican Restaurant with her husband, chef Ian “Slim” Curtis.

“In Jamaica, it’s a patty and a soda. My husband always said, ‘A patty and a soda will hold me.’ Now I understand what he meant.”

And that saying holds true, whether it’s a Ting or a Red Stripe, and a patty made from home or at one of the shops listed here.

Nina Lincoff: n.lincoff@gmail.com, @nincoff

Where to buy

Hammond’s Bakery: 4224 NW 12th St., Lauderhill; 954-583-3554.

Sonia’s Patties: 10852 SW 104th St., Miami; 305-598-6695.

Palatino Jamaican Restaurant: 3004 NW Second Ave., Miami; 786-360-5200.

LC Roti Shop: 19505 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-651-8924.

Basic Patty Dough

The traditional yellow color of Jamaican patties comes from food dye, egg yolks, curry or turmeric powder. At its simplest, Jamaican patty dough is shortening, water and flour. Here, vinegar is added to tenderize the dough, which is a better guarantee of flakiness, and sugar is added to offset any bitterness of the spice added for natural color. Recipe by Nina Lincoff.

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon white sugar

1/2 tablespoon turmeric or Jamaican or Indian curry powder

1 1/4 cups shortening

1 tablespoon white vinegar

3/4 cup cold water

1 egg, for egg wash

Add flour, salt, sugar and turmeric or curry to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined. Add the shortening and pulse until the dough resembles coarse sand. Add the vinegar and water and process until a ball of dough forms. Separate dough into two discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

Heat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness on a floured surface. Using a 5- to 6-inch round (the top of a yogurt quart works well), cut out patties. Reroll dough as needed to get 14-16 shells.

Whisk together egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush edges of dough round with egg wash and spoon 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto the center of a round. Fold dough over and seal. Crimp edges with a fork and line patties up on the prepared baking sheets, an inch apart from each other. Brush the top of each patty with egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, or until just beginning to turn golden. Enjoy hot or room temperature. Patties freeze well, and can be reheated in the oven or microwave.

Yield: 14-16 patties

Spicy Beef Patties

Recipe by Nina Lincoff.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 pound ground beef

1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and deveined, minced

2 tablespoons Jamaican or Indian curry powder

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup of beef broth

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg, for egg wash

14-16 pastry shells (see recipe)

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, bell pepper, salt and ground black pepper and sweat the vegetables, about 2 minutes. Add the group beef and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the scotch bonnet, curry powder, ginger, allspice, cumin, bay leaf and dried thyme and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the beef broth and cook until most of the liquid had disappeared, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Remove the bay leaf and season with additional salt and ground black pepper if needed. Stir in breadcrumbs. Refrigerate until cool, or overnight.

Take a prepared pastry shell and brush the edges with egg wash. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto the center of a round. Fold dough over and seal. Crimp edges with a fork and line patties up on the prepared baking sheets, an inch apart from each other. Brush the top of each patty with egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, or until just beginning to turn golden.

Yield: 14-16 patties

Callaloo, Cabbage and Carrot Patties

Recipe by Nina Lincoff. Save time in the kitchen by buying pre-shredded carrot and cabbage.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, grated

6 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

4 cups callaloo, chard or mustard greens, chopped

2 cups cabbage, grated

1 cup carrot, grated

1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and deveined, minced

2 tablespoons Jamaican or Indian curry powder

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoon Worcestershire

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg, for egg wash

14-16 pastry shells (see recipe)

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, bell pepper, salt and ground black pepper and sweat the vegetable, about 2 minutes. Add the callaloo, cabbage and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the scotch bonnet, curry powder, bay leaf and dried thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, ginger, allspice, cumin and Worcestershire and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Remove the bay leaf and season with additional salt and ground black pepper if needed. Stir in breadcrumbs. Refrigerate until cool, or overnight.

Take a prepared pastry shell and brush the edges with egg wash. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto the center of a round. Fold dough over and seal. Crimp edges with a fork and line patties up on the prepared baking sheets, an inch apart from each other. Brush the top of each patty with egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, or until just beginning to turn golden.

Yield: 14-16 patties

Curry Lobster Patties

Recipe by Nina Lincoff.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and deveined, minced

1 tablespoon Jamaican or Indian curry powder

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup coconut milk

1 pound lobster meat, chopped

1 egg, for wash

14-16 pastry shells (see recipe)

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, bell pepper, salt and ground black pepper and sweat the vegetable, about 2 minutes. Add the scotch bonnet, curry powder, ginger, allspice, cumin, bay leaf and dried thyme and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add coconut milk and stir to combine, bring to a boil and then add the lobster meat. Sauté the lobster and reduce the curry for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Take a prepared pastry shell and brush the edges with egg wash. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto the center of a round. Fold dough over and seal. Crimp edges with a fork and line patties up on the prepared baking sheets, an inch apart from each other. Brush the top of each patty with egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, or until just beginning to turn golden.

Yield: 14-16 patties

Green Yogurt Hot Sauce

Recipe by Nina Lincoff.

2 cups cilantro, chopped

1 serrano pepper, deveined and seeded

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

Juice from 1 lime

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons milk, optional

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. For a looser sauce, add milk and blend.

Yield: Serves 12

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