Monday, 10 December 2012

Jamaican night

This Saturday Jane went up to London for the day to attend a club meeting, leaving me at home all day to play cooking. This was a great opportunity for me because I seldom have as long as I like for cooking. Not for me the "One dish; one hour, let's cook!" regime of Masterchef. I prefer to take my time.

In the dark days of December it's all too easy to fall into a routine of making traditional British "comfort food" stews and casseroles, so I decided we would have something very different - a Caribbean-style meal. Here is a picture of some of the ingredients I used. For those of you who don't know them, Gungo Peas or Pigeon Peas are a bit like Chickpeas / Garbanzos. They are used a lot in Caribbean cooking.

This is the menu:-

Starter: Jamaican patties, served with Mango chutney.

Main: Spiced roast pork, served with "Rice and Peas" and salad

Dessert: none! (I didn't think we'd be able to manage any...and I was right)

Today I'm going to describe the starter, and I'll write about the Main tomorrow.

Jamaican patties are basically what we would call a pasty. A folded and crimped pastry case filled with spiced meat. It can be chicken, pork, beef - whatever you like. I used beef.

(Makes 4 large patties. Serve one each as a Starter, two for a Main)

for the pastry
250g plain flour
80g softened butter
Half teaspoon ground Turmeric
Quarter teaspoon salt
Approx three tablespoons cold water

for the filling
250g minced beef
One small onion, peeled and finely chopped
One tablespoon vegetable oil
500ml beef stock
Four teaspoons hot Curry Powder
Half teaspoon crushed Fennel seeds
Quarter teaspoon ground Allspice (Jamaican pepper)
Quarter teaspoon dried Thyme
Two cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed
A one-inch piece of fresh Ginger, peeled and grated
A few twists of ground Black Pepper
Half a Scotch Bonnet chilli, or equivalent (Add more or less according to preference)
One Tablespoon dark Rum (omit if not liked)

for the cosmetic aspect:
One egg, beaten


Make the pastry.
Sift the flour, salt and Turmeric powder into a large bowl
Add the softened butter
Rub the butter into the flour with your hands, aiming to produce a texture like breadcrumbs
Add the cold water slowly as required, kneading the mixture into a soft dough
Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 2 hours to firm-up

Make the filling.
Fry the onion gently in the oil, in a small saucepan, until it is translucent but not brown
Add the meat and cook until lightly browned
Stir-in the curry powder, spices, garlic, ginger, black pepper and Scotch Bonnet chilli
Add a small quantity of the stock
Cook gently for approx an hour, adding more stock as needed to keep the mixture fairly loose
(NB: You can cook the minced beef in about 20 minutes, but it is much better if you can give it an hour or more!)
Towards the end of the available cooking time, turn up the heat for a few minutes to reduce the mixture to a firm texture
Remove the chilli
Add the Rum
Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool

Pre-heat the oven to 200C
Divide the pastry into four roughly equal pieces
Roll out one of the pieces of dough until it is about 5mm thick.
Place a saucer on the pastry and cut round it with a knife to produce a pastry disc
Place about 2 Tablespoonfuls of the filling near one edge of the pastry disc
Fold the pastry over from the opposite edge, bringing it together over the filling
Crimp the edges of the patty - I used a fork to make it look pretty!
Brush the patty with beaten egg
Repeat the procedure for the other three

Place the patties on a greased baking-sheet
Cook at 200C for about 30 - 35 minutes, until golden brown

A little tip - discovered purely by chance. I had a little scrap of pastry (the trimmings) and a spoonful or so of the filling left over, so I made a very tiny patty, which I cooked with the main ones. When I thought they would be ready I removed and tested (aka "ate") the tiny one, just to see if it/they was/were done. It is harder than you might think to judge when the patties are fully cooked, because the pastry is coloured with the Turmeric to start with, and then it is brushed with the beaten egg, which rapidly goes a golden colour.

The End Result:-

I was so pleased with those (this was the first time I had made pastry "solo") that I texted a photo to Jane, who was still at her meeting. I just couldn't wait to show them off!

Note: the filling can obviously be adjusted to suit pretty much any taste. If you don't like Curry Powder, or Chillies, or Garlic, leave them out and put something else in instead. Worcester Sauce might work quite well; or finely diced Mushrooms.

Serving suggestion: I had mine with Mango Chutney, which worked brilliantly with the curried filling. Jane avoided the sweet chutney for diabetic reasons, but she had Lime and Chilli relish instead, which seemed to hit the spot too. A final note: I think these patties would have been even better if they had been eaten immediately after baking. As it was, we had ours cooled and re-heated, which can make the pastry just a little bit heavier.

Tomorrow I'll show you the Spiced Roast Pork.


  1. The patties were every bit as delicious as they look. It may not be authentic, but I think they would be delicious with a cooling tomato salsa to balance the heat of the chilli.

  2. That`s a heck of a lot of typing for this post Mark, but the end result is fabulous what a shame you don`t do deliveries of your great food to Eastbourne, all the best David

  3. I definitely think that you are going to end up publishing a recipe book. I had lime and chilli relish in a restaurant and it nearly blew my head off. The waitress said that not many people liked it which made me wonder why they served it. I'm assuming if Jane likes it the one I had must be of inferior quality!

  4. I so love patties. Whenever we are in the Caribbean we always search out a good place to find them. Not that I can eat them now. But I used to love them.

  5. They look delicious. Well done with the pastry too, there'll be no stopping you now.

  6. Patties, pasty, pie, somosa. I find it interesting so many cultures have similar dishes based on technique! These look delicious Mark!

  7. I bet they're good and tasty with the spices you used.


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