Jamaican beef pie is a derivative of Cornish pie, a pastry filled with meat and vegetables. The galette was introduced to the Caribbean by British settlers. Jamaicans modified the paste with additional spices like curry.
Introduced to Canada in the 1970s, this tasty hand pie has become a lunchtime staple for many and has garnered attention in the most unexpected ways.
Beef patty ban
In 1985, the Kensington Patty Palace was visited by a consumer and commercial affairs inspector. They informed co-owner Ray Davidson that fines would be issued if the beef patty was not immediately rebranded in the marketing of his shop and that of several other shops that sold them.
At the time, the expenses associated with renaming his bakery, posting and registering a new business would be a cost that would end his business.
Many shop owners under Davidson’s leadership banded together, refusing to sell under any other name, that the beef patty was a Jamaican heritage.
Community outrage thrust the story into the media spotlight, forcing politicians, lawyers and the Jamaican consulate to get involved.
Finally, a compromise was found, allowing stores that sold the pastry to call their product a jamaican pancake.
On February 23, 1985, Kensington Patty Palace held a celebration at the store, now known as patty day in Toronto.
The end of an iconic monument
Randy’s Patties in Toronto was the first Jamaican patty store in Canada, opened in 1979. On February 26, 2022, Randy’s Patties announced it would be closing due to ongoing construction by Metrolinx, the pandemic, labor shortages workers and aging owners.
When the beloved iconic boutique announced the closure on Instagram, a signal started outside the small shop, prompting a change to their message advising customers of a limit of patties per person.
People expressed mixed emotions, prompting a backlash from many including celebrity influencer Drake who pleaded to save the iconic Jamaican patty shop by offering to buy it.
The popularity of the small meat pastry continues. I’ve included a recipe that takes time to make, but the flavors and flakes in this hand pie are worth it.
I wanted to create a recipe for you that included produce that was in season, as well as accessible at the Civitan Farmers Market, Dorval Crossing in Oakville. There are producers and manufacturers of all kinds to be found there. Open Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The many ingredients that go into the meat filling give it a depth of flavor that hits your taste buds in stages. You will fall for the puff pastry with incorporated spices, which makes it tasty in itself! If the thought of using scotch bonnet peppers brings you to tears, use Grace Hot Pepper Sauce to control the heat you desire.
Jamaican Beef Patty Recipe
Large nonstick skillet, spatula, measuring cup, spoon, blender, baking sheet, cooling rack, paring knife, cutting board, fork, pastry brush, small bowl, large mixing bowl, grater, peeler, plastic wrap , rolling pin, aluminum foil
PREPARATION TIME 2h15 YIELD 8
2 cups flour, plus extra for flouring the surface
⅔ cup of butter
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons of turmeric
3 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons curry powder
4 tablespoons shortening
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 lb ground beef
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon of ginger
1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and diced
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 to 2 tablespoons browning sauce for color
¼ cup panko to absorb excess liquid
1 tablespoon oil
Brown gravy can be made in any desired amount by caramelizing the sugar.
No buttermilk on hand? Add a tablespoon of white vinegar to a cup of milk for each cup of buttermilk required in a recipe. I like to combine the vinegar with the milk before I start to give the mixture time to develop. Keep refrigerated until use.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, turmeric, baking powder, sugar and curry powder. Dice the shortening and ⅓ of the butter, keeping the remaining piece in the fridge. With minimal hand contact on the butter, use a fork to stir the butter and shortening into the flour mixture to create a crumble.
Add the buttermilk and stir it in with a fork. Quickly form a ball of dough that will be sticky. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let the dough rest.
In a large skillet, add the oil and sauté the onions over medium-high heat for 2 minutes until translucent. Add carrots, green onions, garlic, ground pepper, thyme, ginger, paprika and Scotch bonnet. Adjust the spices to taste. Sauté all the ingredients for 3 minutes, remove from the heat and reserve the mixture in a bowl.
Brown ground beef over medium-high heat. Drain excess oil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the mixed vegetables, tomato paste, ketchup and soy sauce to the beef. Top up the color with the browning sauce, then stir in the panko to absorb the excess liquid. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, then turn off the heat, uncovered, to allow the meat to cool.
Unwrap the remaining dough. Lightly flour a clean surface and the dough and roll out to ¼ inch thickness. Shave 1/2 of the remaining butter evenly over the surface. Fold the two ends several times lengthwise towards the center, fold again in the same direction on itself.
Repeat using the remaining butter. Repeat without butter. Film and refrigerate 30 more minutes.
In a blender, blend the meat mixture for 10-20 seconds. Gently loosen the meat to evenly combine the mixture and mix for another 10-20 seconds. This makes the meat more compact, while retaining some texture. Don’t mix too much.
Preheat the oven to 425℉. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness. Cut the dough into 8 equal rectangles. Spoon equal amounts of filling into each, leaving a rim to seal. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk and with the brush, brush the inside edge of each pastry with the egg wash, on one side. Fold the other side over to meet the egg wash.
With the fork, pinch the two sides together, sealing the dough. With leftover egg wash, paint each galette on top to give it a more golden color when baking. Lay a piece of aluminum foil on the baking sheet to avoid burning the top before the inside is completely cooked. Take it out 5-7 minutes before the end if they need more color. Bake for 25 minutes.