Jamaica The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking

Jamaican Meat Patties

When you think of Jamaican food there is no item more ubiquitous than the Jamaican meat patty. No doubt, you have probably purchased one of these ‘grab-and-go’ delights yourself at one time or another. In Elizabeth Ortiz’s The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking she shares her favorite childhood snack that dates back to the early 20th century in Kingston, Jamaica.

Of the 54 recipes attributed to Jamaica in Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz’s The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking there is without a doubt no recipe able to excite the imagination and arouse the hunger as Jamaican Meat Patties. I would venture to say that almost everyone has at one point in their life had a Jamaican Meat Patty and many of them looking forward in anticipation for their next one.

However, the real question is: do these meat patties live up to the hype? Well, the easy answer is yes, yes they do. They aren’t a facsimile of the meat patties you will find in your local grocery store but they are a delicious home-made pastry.

In this recipe Ortiz attempts to re-create the meat patties of her youth that she used to buy at recess while attending Wolmer’s School in Kingston, Jamaica, the second oldest school in the Caribbean established in 1729.

Wolmer’s is one of the most prestigious schools in the Caribbean, being the home of 23 Rhodes scholars as well as a plethora of noteworthy artists and entertainers including Harry Belafonte and Sean Paul.

Ironically, this is exactly what I used to do during my Middle School lunch breaks in Toronto at the Caribbean grocer around the corner from the school.

If you only try one recipe from this book, this is the one to do.


for flaky pastry:
2 Cups Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
6 tbsp Unsalted Butter
6 tbsp Lard

for meat filling:
2 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Annatto
1 lb ground beef
1 onion (finely chopped)
1 clove garlic (crushed)
1 cup tomato (peeled, seeded, & chopped)
1/2 tsp thyme
3 eggs
Pickapeppa Hot Sauce


Flaky Pastry:

  1. Divide butter and lard into 4 parts.
  2. Sift salt into flour.
  3. Rub 1 part each of butter and lard into flour and a little cold water to form an elastic dough.
  4. Roll out dough about 8inches wide.
  5. Sprinkle dough with 2nd part of butter and lard, leaving 1/3rd blank. Dredge with flour.
  6. Fold blank dough over and then fold remaining exposed dough on top of that, creating three layers. Roll out and repeat until all butter and lard is used up.
  7. Wrap with parchment paper and chill in fridge for 1 hour.

Meat filling:

  1. Cook anatto in oil and then add ground beef.
  2. Add onions and garlic.
  3. Add tomato, thyme.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add desired amount of Pickapeppa Hot Sauce.
  5. Mix in 2 beaten eggs.
  6. Roll out pastry dough and cut into 5inch circles.
  7. Fill circles with about 1/2 cup of filling each, crimp edges into a semi-circle and brush with beaten egg white.
  8. Bake in 425 degree oven for 20-30 until golden brown.

As an alternative to meat patties you can try this saltfish and ackee filling that’s also quite good:

1/2 cup cooked flaked salt cod
1 onion finely chopped and sauteed
1 fresh red chili pepper
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 can, drained ackees mashed

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