Sunday, February 19, 2012

Spicy Jamaican Meat Pies: Memories of Spicy Luke's Restaurant

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.


  1. Luke's meat patties were great, but you can get meat patties elsewhere that are almost as good. What I really miss is Luke's jerk pork which came with rice and peas and was incredibly delicious. I've not been able to find anything close since he retired several years ago.

  2. Thanks for posting - can't wait to try this out. My daughter spotted the photo over my shoulder and started to get excited!

  3. I never tried the jerk pork but I heard it was legend. My other sin was the chicken, on occasion. Sure wish he was back in business.

    Ellen: Love to hear how it all turns out. Feel free to fire off any questions if you have any.

  4. It is so surprising I should come upon this blog today. Just 3 days ago, I met Luke Campbell in person attending a bbq. He still lives in Ottawa and supervises the cooking for a Jamaican Brunch held the first Sunday of June each year. The food is great, I have attended twice, but unfortunately it features a lot of Jamaican fare, but not his patties.

    1. Good news! Luke is still in Ottawa and cooking. Lucky you to have met him at the BBQ. Is it an event open to the public? I hope he knows his patties are missed. He had quite the following.

    2. I grew up eating lukes patties best ever misses his cooking so much what i wouldnt do to get his recipe

  5. I've been trying to find and re-create Luke's patties for years now. I've come close but no where have I found ones to buy that even can call themselves 'hot' patties and Oh the flavour...

    1. I you have suggestions on how to make the patties more Luke-esque, I am all ears!

  6. Love Luke's patties and fried platain, I never found other similar to his, I' ll give it a try to your recipe and let u know. Iam happy to hear Luke is still in Ottawa, I will try to find this Jamaican brunch next year.

    1. You have reminded me that I want to make these again. Warms the belly.

  7. I remember Luke very well; in fact he catered my wedding. I was addicted to his fried chicken and would give my left arm to get the recipe. I was a loyal customer of Canadian Chef for nearly a decade and miss him and his fantastic cooking very much.

  8. OMG Luke ! I followed you since the Canadian Chef @ Rideauview mall location to Alta Vista and have met with you several times...... have travelled to Jamaica twice...... a small stand in Falmouth used to rival your patties, now none do just the Juicies and some other mass produced ones that don't come close!! You must treat us to your recipe so your legacy can live on...... your friend Dean ( the air conditioning guy )

  9. One thing about Luke Patty recipe doesn't sound right. The dough was not all purpose but corn flour. I was crazy about Luke's patties too and knew about both the locations. I wish he had passed on this secret recipe to his next generation.

  10. Hardest working man in food business and best fried chicken I have ever had. Hope he's enjoying retirement and decides to share is recipe so we can go on enjoying the amazing chicken.

  11. lynne macinnis (page)July 11, 2017 at 9:00 PM

    i have been going to him since prince of wales at the age of 9 and now 52 loved his fried chicken and patties use to come get some to head back home to brulington all the time with my kids..unfortunately closed on the day of my wedding wish someone would do his chicken i would buy dozens and dozens ...miss you tons my friends <3 and ty for introducing us to an amazing culture

  12. Yup - Luke's Jamaican fried chicken was the best ever.

  13. Went to Canadian Chef from 1970 onward. Luke gave me a box of patties to “tide me over” on the day he retired. Never has there been a better patty. Btw. I have the secret fried chicken recipe. Don’t ask I won’t tell.

  14. Please share that fried chicken recipe! You will be a legend!!


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