The Protein-Based Difference Between Jamaican And Haitian Beef Patties

While sweet baked goods understandably receive attention, there's an appeal to a savory pastry, too. Convenient to eat, filling, and a delicious vessel for flavor, these foods make for a casual lunch or snack. In parts of the Caribbean — specifically Jamaica and Haiti — the go-to version of such a food is the beef patty.

These islands serve up baked goods with a delicious doughy composition, and an aromatic filling. Stuffed with aromatically prepared ground beef, it's a food that's both flavorful and hearty. And while both are delicious, each one takes on characteristics of their respective cuisine.

The Haitian pastry is fluffier, resembling a puff pastry in composition. The meat is flavored with a fragrant but lightly seasoned mixture of herbs and aromatics like onions and garlic. Meanwhile, the Jamaican version is denser and richer flavored, with spices kneaded through the pastry. Its filling is smoother, lending to a more condensed bite. And there's a principal flavor distinction in the protein, too; the meat oftentimes takes on a bolder, spicier, and sometimes curried flavor.

What is a Jamaican beef patty?

A beloved food on the island — as well as with its diaspora — Jamaican patties serve up aromatic flavors in a convenient form. Visually, they resemble empanadas. However, the dough is crafted with a mixture of flour, salt, spices, and suet. It's thin and dense, yet flakey, which means it easily retains moisture. Additionally, flavorings like curry powder and turmeric are rolled into the dough mix, a quality unique to the Jamaican pastry. This gives an aromatic bite of flavor with every bite.

Inside, there's a dense ground beef filling bursting with flavors. From scotch bonnet peppers to curry spice, allspice, onions, and more, the beef is curried for a highly aromatic character. Beef is the most common filling; however, there are versions with other proteins, from seafood to chicken and cheese. Variations are abundant, not a surprise, since the Jamaican beef patty is a flavorful and comforting snack that's easily batched. The dough can be prepared ahead of time, making it a food that's available piping hot in minutes. As a result, Jamaican patties are served as street food in bakeries and shops and prepared at home.

What is a Haitian beef patty?

As opposed to the Jamaican beef patty, the Haitian version has a much fluffier dough, nearly resembling a croissant. Such a result is achieved through a flour and shortening-based mix, typically only flavored with salt. The mixture is rolled thin and then folded over a minimum of three to four times, creating several layers of flakey dough. An egg wash finish finalizes the pastry with a golden, crispy crust.

The Haitian beef patty filling is more malleable. As per the name, beef is a common component, but it can also employ pork, chicken, and seafood, especially cod. The ground beef is cooked down with aromatics and typically flavored with epis, Haiti's beloved seasoning. While some peppers and other bold spices may be used in the filling, this dish typically lies on the milder side in comparison to the Jamaican version. The dish serves a role similar to other puff pastry creations, enjoyed for breakfast, as an appetizer, or served at a gathering. Just like its Jamaican counterpart, it's also available as a street food, and at many local shops in Haiti.