A Pattie on the Back for Little Miss Muffin

by James Boo on August 10, 2010 · 9 comments

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Beef Patty and Coco Bread - Christie's Jamaican Patties Etc. - 387 Flatbush Ave. - Prospect Heights - Brooklyn, NY
The Jamaican Patty was more or less foreign to me until a couple of months ago. I had passed by Golden Krust plenty of times en route to Popeyes, and I had heard tales of dried-up, unsavory offerings from deli counters and carts, but I had never felt the urge to seek out an authentic patty experience until I began living within walking distance of one of New York’s primary sources on the topic.

My first encounter with Christie’s Jamaican Patties Etc. in Prospect Heights made me wonder why it had taken me this long to enjoy the obvious. The Jamaican patty, a savory turnover traditionally shortened with suet and filled with meats minced to the consistency of a fine, spiced mash, guards the price-to-power ratio of the world’s best street foods with a distinctly Caribbean vigor. Like tamales, shao bing you tiao and other street eats that don’t always obey the laws of starch separation, the entire pastry is commonly offered as the filling for a sweet hunk of coco bread, forming a $3.00 sandwich to make New York delis shudder.

Chicken Patty - Christie's Jamaican Patties Etc. - 387 Flatbush Ave. - Prospect Heights - Brooklyn, NY
Veggie Patty - Christie's Jamaican Patties Etc. - 387 Flatbush Ave. - Prospect Heights - Brooklyn, NY Beef Patty - Christie's Jamaican Patties Etc. - 387 Flatbush Ave. - Prospect Heights - Brooklyn, NY
The meat-based options – described only as “chicken” and “beef” – make for wonderful standards. The pastry itself is tender, flaky and beautifully formed. The fillings, graced by hints of allspice, scotch bonnet, vinegar and other flavors, deliver a comforting blend of sweet, savory and tangy and finish with a nice, soft burn. Spice can be boosted with the house’s scotch bonnet sauce, but the balance of flavors is wonderful as is. The same goes for texture: Both fillings are incredibly moist, and their generous apportionment lends each patty a plump heft that is nothing if not satisfying.

Christie’s vegetable patties are given their own treatment, possibly made without the use of animal fat and filled with a seasoned mix of cabbage, corn and other veggies that are serviceable if not very exciting. I say this not as an omnivore but as someone who’s had some wonderful curtido, which can put almost any country’s cabbage-based offerings to shame. That said, the vegetarian option is a benefit, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who would be just as hungry for a meat-filled option.

Jerk Chicken - Christie's Jamaican Patties Etc. - 387 Flatbush Ave. - Prospect Heights - Brooklyn, NY Jerk Chicken - Christie's Jamaican Patties Etc. - 387 Flatbush Ave. - Prospect Heights - Brooklyn, NY
Those actually seeking wonderful meat at Christies would be wise to stick to patties. While this New York Times review praised the house’s jerk chicken as a less intense alternative to the genuine, barrel-smoked artifact, Christie’s chicken seems to have suffered a precipitous decline since 2006. Soggy-skinned, marginally moist and mostly bland, the birds here are now little more than abysmal steam table fare. The looks of Christie’s jerk pork, curried goat and barbecue chicken doesn’t inspire much hope for a saving grace.

Curry Chicken Patty - Little Miss Muffin N Her Stuffin - 174 Park Pl. - Prospect Heights - Brooklyn, NY
BBQ Chicken Patty - Little Miss Muffin N Her Stuffin - 174 Park Pl. - Prospect Heights - Brooklyn, NY Jerk Chicken Patty - Little Miss Muffin N Her Stuffin - 174 Park Pl. - Prospect Heights - Brooklyn, NY
Fortunately, jerk chicken has found new wings just a few steps away, at a charming bakery called Little Miss Muffin N Her Stuffin. Here, Jamaican patties feature several types of meat-based filling, all of which are packed with much more flavor than their more classical counterparts at Christie’s. Little Miss Muffin’s jerk chicken patty sings with allspice and pepper, and their popular BBQ chicken patty abandons minced texture altogether for heavily glazed chunks of white and dark meat. It may not seem very traditional, but it’s finger-licking proof that meat-filled pastry can rarely do wrong.

I’ve had trouble confirming what exactly is used to shorten Little Miss Muffin’s pastry crust; while a roster of extremely hospitable women take their turns representing the bakery’s namesake at the counter, I’ve been told that three Jamaican dudes bake all of the patties. In any case, the pastry is just as flaky, if not always as tender, as the pastry at Christie’s – and the richer, bolder fillings within make Miss Muffin’s patties a distinct go-to when I have a patty craving.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie - Little Miss Muffin N Her Stuffin - 174 Park Pl. - Prospect Heights - Brooklyn, NY Orange Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie - Little Miss Muffin N Her Stuffin - 174 Park Pl. - Prospect Heights - Brooklyn, NY Sugar Cookie - Little Miss Muffin N Her Stuffin - 174 Park Pl. - Prospect Heights - Brooklyn, NY
Any visit to Miss Muffin’s bakery also begs a sampling of cookies, which are sold by the pound (roughly 3 for $2). Cranberry orange oatmeal and chocolate chip pecan are standouts – dense, crusty, chewy and moist, they provide a nice end to a lunch that really shouldn’t have consisted of meat-stuffed, lard-baked pastries. Then again, when it comes to classic handheld treats, walking away with a balanced meal is rarely as easy as pie.

Christie’s Jamaican Patties Etc.
387 Flatbush Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11238
718.636.9746
Little Miss Muffin N Her Stuffin
174 Park Pl.
Brooklyn, NY 11238
718.857.4963

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Nicholas August 10, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Having never tried Jamaican patties, one of my coworkers directed me to Golden Krust. For the longest time I thought their mediocre rendition was a good representation of what they should taste like. I then visited Christie’s on a whim… and you’re right, beyond compare. Interesting that you compare it to shao bing/you tiao… but it makes sense since they are both carb on carb concoctions :)

JO August 11, 2010 at 9:03 am

I’m excited for the discoveries you will have on the other side of the park.

Personally, I’ve never had coco bread on my patty (too cheap?), but the best I’ve had so far has been at Immaculee somewhere south east of the park.

Danny August 11, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Carb on carb needs to happen more often. Like those soba sandwiches you see in a Japanese bakery. They’re supposed to be awesome. And the other day, I put rice into my bread. Delicious, of course.

James Boo August 11, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Nick/Jeff – I love the progression here from fast food patty to “authentic” patty to “true pastry” patty. Immaculee does indeed sound fantastic. I do intend to make more time in Flatbush this fall, so I hope to try it for myself! Not so sure I’ll be hitting Golden Krust anytime soon, though :P

Danny/Nick – For the record, the patty sandwich isn’t that great. I’m down with soba sandwiches, but without some kind of external grease/sauce, I think tamal sandwiches and patty sandwiches are just a little too much for me to enjoy. Still, the concept is a winner – after all, I am a man who likes grits with my hash browns.

gary c August 13, 2010 at 11:01 am

I enjoy the patties (Chicken & Veg.) at Christies that place has been around forever it seems. I like the quality of your images what type of equipment are you using and is any enhancement done to the photos (photoshop)?

James Boo August 13, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Hey Gary – I use a Canon Powershot S90, set on manual control. The photos are not “enhanced,” but if I find that the levels or coloration is out of balance, then I make adjustments manually in Photoshop before uploading to better reflect their appearance in real life :]

Anonymous August 16, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Try the “chicken” (in fact vegetarian) version at Natural Blend on Washington near St Johns. One of my favorites, somehow having no meat. Christie’s and 3Ds I tend to pass on — the first can approach Golden Krust territory these days, and 3Ds has a funkily unpleasant jerk mixture — but I miss Miss Muffin and Natural Blend from my days living in that hood.

James Boo August 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm

I would love to try a great veggie patty. I’ll check out Natural Blend the next time I’m in Prospect Heights… thanks for the tip, friend!

Benjamin October 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I love the chicken soup here! wow!

I felt some congestion in my chest and really needed something hot. I went in asked if they had soup, they had chicken and dumpling. For me, the dumplings don’t work cuz I’m not eating wheat so I got it without the dumplings. Let me tell you! Amazing. So hot, so tasty, the curry, and the color was this beautiful deep orange yellow. Wow!

I got a small size and then finished it by the time I got to the train and was like, “I Need another!!” so I went back to get another. Should have gotten the large to begin with!

Highly recommend the soup!

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