Cooking · Countries · Olympic Games Rio 2016

Jamaica – Beef Patties

Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica.  The ackee tree was brought to Jamaica from Western Africa.  The unripened or inedible pieces of the fruit contain toxins and can deplete glucose leading to a conditional that is called Jamaican vomiting sickness.  The ackee fruit is canned and is a major export product in Jamaica.   The importing of canned ackee into the U.S. has at times been restricted due to unripe ackee arilli being included. However, it is currently allowed, provided that the amount of hypoglycin present meets the standards of the Food and Drug Administration.

This explains why finding canned ackee was so difficult.  I will back-up.  For some reason I have had a hard time getting my act together this week.  I left items off of the shopping list, made daily trips to the grocery, and waited until the last minutes to pick a dish.  I set out to buy the items needed to prepare salt fish and ackee.  I purchased the salt cod.  This was easy to find at Whole Foods in the seafood area.  What I did not realize (because I did not read the recipe) is the salt fish has to soak in water for 24 hours and  I could not find any ackee.  I got home and searched for another dish to make.  The parameters set for myself included only selecting dishes from two books: The New York Times International Cookbook and The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors.  Here were my remaining choices:

  • Jamaican Rice and Beans
    • Required soaking beans and cracking a coconut shell.
      • I really want to try fresh coconut and will in the near future.
  • Jamaican Curried Goat
    • Finding goat at the last minute will not be easy plus I don’t know if I could eat goat.
  • Boiled Green Bananas
  • Fried Plantains, Jamaican Style
  • Rum Custard Pudding
  • Jamaican Rub-Up Cake
  • Jamaican Oxtail Stew
    • fresh out of beef oxtails
  • Corned Spareribs with Beans
    • We had ribs as part of our dinner the previous night PLUS you have to refrigerate for 10 days!
  • Jamaican Hibiscus Drink
  • Jerk Pork
    • too late in the day to barbecue
  • Beef Patties
  • Fricassee Chicken
    • Yes, but no not today.  At the time this seemed too involved.

I decided on the beef patties. These are similar to meat pies that are a treat for the taste buds that are popular in New Orleans.  The biggest difference is the beef patties are baked while meat pies are fried.

Beef Patties

These were a lot of work and would best be prepared if not under pressure to have dinner ready at a certain time.  This is a take your time and give it your full attention dish.

My overall feeling on this was it was a lot of work for a little return.  The beef patties were dry.  I would like to try this again when having the time to give it my best.

  • Filling
    • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
    • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
    • 1/2 a jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
    • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
    • 2 scallions, finely chopped
    • 1 pound of lean ground beef
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1 tablespoon curry powder
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • 1.2 cup of bread crumbs
    • 1/2 cup of water
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Dough
    • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons of curry powder
    • 1 teaspoon of salt
    • 1/2 cup of margarine
    • 1/2 cup of Crisco
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar
    • 3-4 tablespoons of ice water
  1. Heat a large frying pan.
  2. Add the oil, garlic, jalapeno, onions, and scallions.
  3. Saute for a few minutes.
  4. Add the ground beef and cook over medium heat until crumbly.
  5. Stir in the thyme, curry powder, paprika, and bread crumbs.
  6. Stir in the water and cook over low heat just until the water is absorbed.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Allow to cool.
  9. In a large bowl, stir the flour, curry powder, and salt together.
  10. Cut in the cutter and Crisco using a pastry blender.
  11. Keep working the flour and shortening until the mixture is rather grainy.
  12. Mix the egg and vinegar together
  13. Using a wooden fork, stir the mixture into the flour.
  14. Add enough water so that the dough barely holds together.
  15. Place on a marble pastry slab or a plastic counter top and knead for just a few turns, so that the dough holds together and is easy to roll.
  16. The the remaining dough refrigerated as your work.
  17. Roll out a golf-ball size piece of dough to at least 6 inches.
    1. Use a 6-inch  plate as a guide
  18. Put 3 tablespoons of hte filling in the middle of the dough.
  19. Fold the circle over to form a half moon,
  20. Seal the pie by pushing down with a fork to crimp the edges.
  21. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes on an ungreased baking sheet.

I also needed a side so I looked in the Vegetarian Cooking Jamaican Style cookbook by Ayesha Williams.  I know this book is not on the list but I needed something that was not a banana.  This is a wonderful little cookbook that is only 60 pages.  I decided on Yallahs which is described as a “traditional garden salad garnished with golden yam bites and laced with a papaya dressing.”


This was worth all that went into making it.  The papaya dressing was light and refreshing and complemented the iceberg lettuce.  There is something to be said of iceberg lettuce and its simplicity and how cold it feels.

  • Papaya Dressing
  • This makes over 16 ounces of dressing.
    • 2 papayas, peeled and deseeded
      • I really wish is was a measurement because papayas come in different sizes.  I used two of the smallest ones I could find.
    • 1/2 cup of vinegar
    • 1/4 cup of onions, minced
    • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Salad
    • 1 head of iceberg lettuce
    • 1 large tomato, cut into wedges
    • 1/2 carrot, julienne
    • 1 cup of yam, boiled, peeled
    • 1 egg
    • 1 cup of bread crumbs
    • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
    • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil


And a final note – I found canned ackee on the final sale table at Publix.  Coming soon to our dinner table – salt fish and ackee.



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