Miami's Five Best Jamaican Patties: The Power of a Proper Pastry
|Could unity live inside a savory pastry?|
Throughout history humankind has focused on what divides us. Wars have been waged over skin color, land and religion. Despite these differences people from Latin America to Asia all stumbled upon the idea of putting seasoned some meat or vegetables inside a tasty crust and serving them at all hours of the day.
One could argue that in Miami the empanada is the standard bearer for savory pastries. Yet you can also find samosas, a fragrant Indian pastry stuffed with meat or curried vegetables and either baked or fried. Our Jewish friends offer the knish, most commonly filled with potato but sometimes meat. Yet large Jamaican populations in South Florida, particularly in the northern part of Miami-Dade as well as Broward, brought us the patty.
We're happy to take down half a dozen spicy patties for lunch, but recognize all patties aren't created equally. You might have seen them as limp, unnaturally yellow things sitting under a gas station heat lamp. Yet the real thing is far different than the frozen, reheated hockey pucks.
Using fresh ingredients, and frying patties to order is key, said Lara Peterson, manager of Sonia's Patties in Kendall.
"Everyone makes it a little different traditionally they are more orange-ish," she said. "That's more food coloring than anything." The most common patty filling is spicy ground beef, yet everything from curried chicken and lobster to plantain to ackee, a Jamaican fruit similar to scrambled eggs can be tucked inside what should be a tender, flaky crust made with Crisco instead of butter.
|Patties at Jamaica Kitchen.|
5. Jamaica Kitchen
In the corner of a Sunset Drive strip mall Jamaica Kitchen has been a mainstay for Chinese-Jamaican food since the mid 1980s. Here patties are made according to a Jamaica Kitchen recipe in a factory that the Chin family, who own the restaurant, once owned. Patty options include mild and spicy beef, curry and jerk chicken, and callaloo, made from a stewed leafy vegetable combined with saltfish, tomatoes, onion, scallion and scotch bonnet peppers.