Does anyone remember Spicy Luke’s restaurant in Ottawa?

I know very little about Luke Campbell but a few decades ago I faithfully sought out his legendary Jamaican meat patties. I remember his location off of Prince of Wales near Meadowlands and also when he was located at Bank and Alta Vista. He offered pies of different heat intensities and I often went for a dozen ‘hot’. He was always so friendly with his customers so it’s no surprise that I came out with more product than I had planned. The patties did freeze well and if I was going to make the drive that far across town, I might as well get a supply.

In the early 90’s I found a recipe that looked like it could rival Luke’s patties. It was found in Canadian Living’s County Living by Elizabeth Baird and The Food Writers of Canadian Living. It wasn’t where I expected I would find authentic Jamaican fare. We hit the jackpot. The recipe was very close to Chef Luke’s creations.

I recommend making the dough and the filling one day and doing the assembly the next. Otherwise, it becomes a long project. The extra day allows the flavours in the filling to mellow together. And the dough will be well chilled. The recipe makes 36 patties. The recipe can be easily halved.

Luke Campbell, if you are still cooking it up in Ottawa, know that your famous patties are sadly missed.

Adapted from Canadian Living’s Country Cooking by Elizabeth Baird and The Food Writers of Canadian Living

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons medium or hot curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/3 cup Crisco shortening, slightly chilled
1/2 cup butter, slightly chilled
1 cup cold water

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, very finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds medium ground beef
3 tablespoons hot curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground thyme
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups water
1 cup bread crumbs, fine

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, curry and turmeric. Stir well.

Cut in chilled shortening and butter, using a pastry cutter until mixture resembles small crumbly pieces. Add water slowly and stir with a fork until you have a soft dough.

Wrap the dough in saran wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. The dough can be kept for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 weeks. I usually chill the dough and do the patty assembly the second day.

In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic until soft. Remove onion mixture and set aside.

Brown the lightly salted beef until it is no longer pink. Make sure there are no large chunks. Drain off the fat. Stir in the onion mixture, curry, thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes to bring out the flavour of the spices.

Pour in the water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the bread crumbs. Mixture can not be runny but it is important that it is moist. Cool well. I cover it and store in the fridge to use the next day. It can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Roll out a 1/4 of the dough between two pieces of wax paper. You will need to dust the wax paper with flour and also lightly dust the dough. Cut into 4″ circles. I use a yoghurt container. I can usually get 6 circles with each portion. Collect up the odd bits of dough to be re-rolled.

After all the 6 circles are cut, take one at a time, and spoon on filling. I use my soup spoon and form an egg size ball. Wet the edge of the dough, fold dough over to create a half-moon, pinch the seam and seal the edges by crimping with a fork. Prick the dough twice.

Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake in preheated 370ºF oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

The patties freeze well. To reheat, place in a preheated 375ºF oven and bake for 20 minutes. (I place the patties on stoneware to reheat. Use a baking sheet if you do not have one.)

This recipe yields 36 meat pies.