Beef Pate

Beef Pate

Pates (pronounced Pah Tays) were my fast food growing up.  After Hurricane Hugo blew away our high school cafeteria, lunch time was trimmed down and simplified. Some days it was just a Pate either beef or saltfish and an “Island Dairies” juice box either passion fruit, Iced Tea, or guava—Total Cost $2.00!! What I remember about those pates were the crispy crunchy dough with the raised welts and blisters fried into place where the hot oil met and melt the fat in the dough in a puff of steam. Sigh… it was food heaven! I have longed to find the perfect Pate ever since. I usually ran into pates that were too greasy, or too doughy, or too much butter/shortening. None were able to capture the balance of textures for me of those high school pates.

I am almost convinced that every culture has its version of meat encased in some form of delicious pastry, the Spanish Empanadas, The Jamaican Beef Patties, The French Pasties, The Italian Calzone, Even the British with their Meat Pies! We all understand that something special happens when dough and meat come together!

A thousand tries and a bag of flour later, I’ve bumped into the kind of pate that I couldn’t stop making. The kind of pate I craved for lunch AND dinner (on the same day). The kind of pate I was dangerously testing and retesting to make sure that I sacrificed and brought you, the reader, the very BEST in pate pastry of course! Yes, I did it for the blog!!! I am STICKING with that story to justify the unholy amount of pates I “tasted” in arriving at this final version! Spiced and flavorful beef wrapped in a crimped tender, flaky, pastry.

The kind of beef you use can have a serious effect on this dish. I used local Senepole ground beef I bought at one of my favorite local meat shops, Annaly Farms. Senepole is a very lean meat with strong beefy flavors. In fact, the Senepole Cow was bred specifically for this island to tolerate our warm weather. They feast on grass in Crucian pastures and the flavor of the beef is just beautiful. The only downside of Senepole is that it is incredibly tough. But the grinding process makes it perfect for pates! I don’t expect you to bump into Senepole beef in your local grocery store, but any good quality lean beef would work well here. If you can’t find a lean cut of beef, you can simply drain some of the fat from the cooked filling.

Also, this isn’t a recipe you can fiddle with in terms of the dough. The recipe calls for shortening. I used an organic, vegetable, non-hydrogenated shortening. But any good shortening will do! Pleaaaaaaaaaaase don’t use butter! Pleaaaaaase don’t use margerine! Pleaaaaaaaaase don’t use a butter substitute or anything that isn’t Shortening! Your taste buds will thank you!

Filling Ingredients:

1 Pound Lean Ground Beef

1 Yellow Onion Diced

5 Cloves of Garlic

1/2 Green Bell Pepper

1/2 Red Bell Pepper

2-3 Seasoning Peppers

2 Stalks Culantro or 2 Tablespoons of Cilantro

1 Teaspooon Thyme

2-3 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste

Optional: Hot Peppers to your taste

Salt and Pepper to Taste



In a skillet, heat just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.

Once oil is sufficiently hot add Diced Onion, Green Bell Peppers, Red Bell Peppers,  Seasoning Peppers, Garlic, and Thyme cook until onions and green peppers are completely softened and translucent.

Then add Ground Beef and cook until done.

Sprinkle cilantro over the mixture and add the tomato paste.

Feel free to add a little water if necessary to keep the mixture from sticking. But the goal is to keep the “sauce/water/oil” content to a minimum so that it doesn’t make the pastry soggy or greasy after frying.

Add Salt and Pepper to taste or even some “hot” peppers to your taste, if you enjoy a more spicy filling like I do.


Dough Ingredients:

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 Teaspoon Salt

2 Teaspoon Sugar

1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1/4 Cup Cold Shortening

1/2 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons Cold Water

Oil for Frying

1 Egg and about a tablespoon of water for sealing the Pate


Pate 1


Measure out the two cups of flour by using the “Dip and Sweep” Method I described in Contessa Tip #4. Flour can become compacted during processing. So, if you want a more accurate measurement of the flour you are using, aerate the flour by dipping your measuring spoon into the bag and letting it fall back into the bag. Do this a couple times, and then scoop out the measured amount, then use the back of a knife to sweep off any excess. This will help make sure you don’t have too much flour in your dough which can change the texture of the final outcome.

In a food processor, place the dry ingredients–Flour, Salt, Sugar, and Baking Powder.

Run the machine for a few seconds to mix all the ingredients together evenly.

Add the cold shortening and pulse about ten times to break the fat evenly into the flour mixture.

Finally. stream the cold water into the mixture as the machine is running. It should start to pull away from the sides and form a ball. The dough may seem slightly crumbly but it will all come together during kneading.

Knead the dough for about a minute to bring it all together.

Form a flat disc, and let it rest for about an hour.

TIP:  I used parchment paper to knead the dough into the disc shape. This kept me from having to add flour which would change the texture of the dough.


Once the meat Meat Mixture is completely cool. Roll out the dough as thin as possible. I tried to quantify how thin it should be but my ruler wouldn’t let me, I would say it was about 1/16th of an inch.

Tip: If you don’t have a French Rolling Pin, it might be nice to snag one. I love the control I get from using this type of rolling pin rather than the traditional one.


After rolling out the dough, use a small bowl about 5 inches and a pastry cutter to make the circles.

Pate 10

Add the meat mixture to the center of the pate, leave sufficient room to close the pate with at least an inch border for sealing.

In a separate bowl beat together the egg and water and with the tip of your finger trace half of the circle.

Fold the other half of the dough over the meat mixture and press to seal with a fork.


Place enough oil in your fryer for the pates to deep fry. Let the oil get very hot. Lowering or raising the temperature of the fryer as you see fit throughout the frying process.

Very gently, without splashing the oil drop one or two pates (depending on the size of your fryer) into the oil and let fry until puffy and golden brown.


When they are completely finished they should look like the photo below!



And just so you could have one more look at what the inside of this delicious golden fried goodness looks like!

I hope you are having a wonderful Crucian Day wherever you are in the world! Make some pates and ENJOY!!


46 thoughts on “Beef Pate

  1. Shamefully, this is yet another food from home I’ve never made myself – ever! Thankfully, your post has inspired me to do so. I just placed it on my desktop so it can nag me until I do it. They look LOVELY! 🙂

  2. I have been silently following you Contessa dear for a while. I just had to say that I admire you for using and sharing your good given gift of cooking. Keep being a blessing in the work he has called you to in serving him by helping others.

    Happy New Year!

      1. I’ve made it with saltfish and curry chicken its SOOO good! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes Contessa. #VItilIdie#340

  3. This is how I remember them looking. I have longed for these ever since
    we left the island after Hugo. I have tried to duplicate but none grabbed
    my taste buds like those from the 70’s and 80’s. I am going to make these
    tonight. So excited to bring back the flavors from those magical years
    we spent in St. Croix.
    Thank you for perfecting and sharing!!

  4. Rats! My dough came out “flat”. It’s not doughy, but it lacks the puffy bubbles I remember from Coki beach in the late sixties. Contessa, where did I fail?

    1. I’m so sorry to read this, Robin! Nothing is worst than when things don’t turn out as expected. A couple thoughts. 1. Check the expiration date on your baking powder! Make sure it is active. 2. Was your frying temperature hot enough? I don’t measure my oil temperature, but it should not be sitting in the oil. You want to make sure it is frying on contact, but not burning. You have to use your kitchen judgment here. 3. Did you use shortening? Makes a difference! Try again and again and again. The kitchen is it’s own reward! And if it fails then at least I hope your filling came out good and you had a DECENT pate! 🙂 Good Luck!

      1. Filling was perfect, I used crisco, oil seemed hot enough…..the only step that was different was I was unable to stream cold water into the processor as my Ninja does not have this feature. I had to add water in small batches and pulse the dough. Perhaps I over worked it this way?

        I grew up on STT and miss these little pockets of heaven as much as the beautiful landscape from the 70’s!

  5. Bless your heart, I’ve been trying to get this recipe for a while.. Moms put a little bit of this and that was not working out at all…

  6. First off I love your blog, I found it on Facebook two weeks ago and have been hooked since. I am no chef in anyway but I had to try this. I’m also from St. Croix and this is one thing from home that I have always wanted to try and make. Well I made it today and it came out wonderful. Everyone who tasted it enjoyed it as well. I also added Sazon seasoning, sofrito, and tomato sauce (only because I ran out). Now that I’ve done this I want to try saltfish and chicken. Thank you so much for this recipe.

    1. You could try. But I wouldn’t risk the oil making the dough soggy overnight. It’s also too easy to assemble fresh the same day. If you were to refrigerate, I would take the dough out about an hour before I needed it to give it a chance to warm up a bit to roll out! 🙂

  7. Thanks for sharing I love the blog too got turned on by my co worker and feel Crucian sistren… But i think it’s awesome especially for a lot of us that have moved far from home and do miss and enjoy our local dishes.. I have to admit I have tried the pate several times.. but it comes out mostly doughy, not quite as crispy looking as yours… I’ll try your method which is exactly the same.. but i’ll use your measurements and I’ll remember to use cold shortening. Thanks for sharing.. OH, i looking for Butter Cookies LOL you wouldn’t happen to have that now would you?

    1. Hi there Kay. I’m looking for the Butter Cookies recipe too. It seems to be a big secret that nobody wants to share! My grandmother got a recipe from a lady, but I didn’t have success with it. I really can only call if a half recipe because all the lady gave were the ingredients and how much to use. If you have success with it let me know! Here goes:
      1-1/4 cups flour
      1/2 cup sugar
      2 sticks butter
      1 tsp vanilla essence
      1 tsp almond essence
      1 egg

  8. As I sit here on the cold, grey, snowy east coast of Canada, I am making these for supper and dreaming of sitting on one of St Croix’s beautiful beaches!

  9. im from stt ,but in cali.I like what you are doing with the testing and sharing.I have seen others use johnny cake dough to make pate.What can you tell about that.

  10. I am so glad to have bumped into your website. I had tried some Saltfish Pate while visiting STX in the 90’s and haven’t found a recipe that made anything close….UNTIL NOW! They turned out wonderful!!!

    Thank you for sharing. My Cruzian husband thanks you and my friends will soon thank you too.

  11. Hi! Would you mind explaining what is meant by ‘2-3 seasoning peppers’? I’m going to use some mini sweet peppers when I try making this tonight, but if that is not correct, please let me know. I’m from STT and hoping to share a taste of home with my family.

      1. Oh My! It is absolutely delicious…a hit with my husband and kids & me!!! Thanks so much for sharing & the response!!

  12. This post was a God send! I had some saltfish leftover from a previous attempt so I decided to jazz it up and make pates out of this. I am so happy I “stumbled” upon this recipe. The dough was simply AMAZING, just how I like it! It was just the right thickness it was a little bubbly and simply delicious. Thanks for posting and you certainly have another follower in me.

  13. Thank you so much for this recipe! I haven’t had meat pate since 1982when i lived on St. Croix! I had goat pate at the time which was the first time I’d ever had goat and it was delish! So happy that I can make this at home! I’d love to find the recipe for the bread pudding that national bakery used to make. ( located in Frederiksted) after I moved back to Ca. And my mom would come visit me, she would always bring me some. I don’t even know if national bakery even exists any more…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *