This is not for the faint of heart.
Not only this dish is loaded with calories but it is also a bit of work. As fattening as this dish is, it is one of my signature dishes and I stand by it. Yes, it is a bit bad for you. Well, don’t eat so much of it, stupid.
I am proud of this dish. I’ve always wanted to do a “borek” (Turkish word for pastry that has some sort of layered ingredients) that resembles my mom’s. This is as close as I am going to get. Is it as good as my mom’s? I am not sure. I remember the taste of my mom’s pastries and I don’t think I will ever place it anywhere or in anything now. The taste is more of a memory than an actual taste. For all I know, her boreks may taste too pedestrian now (since I’ve become a spice junkie).
I make the lamb pastry frequently, primarily for others. We’ve had enough, I think. It is usually good (I constantly play with the ingredients so no two batches are identical in texture or taste) and people pay a lot of compliments so I will bank that.
Before I forget, this pastry goes well with red wine. I’ve catered a winemaker friends’ red wine release one year, serving this and the turkey meatballs in passata recipe.
My recipe for this dish was published in a Northwest wineries and recipes for their wines (representing Hestia Cellars) book in 2008/2009 timeframe but the fucking bitch who collected recipes (saying she authored it would be like calling Office Depot a publishing house instead of a printing company for printing my menus for the last week’s party) changed my recipe to a cheese/spinach version (which I had provided as a more vegetarian alternative but not as the main recipe). Needless to say, my chance to culinary stardom was squished expressly afterwards. Sigh.
Ton’s Lamb Pastry
- 1 package Phylo dough
- 2 Tbsps olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1 tsp chili pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp or to taste, thyme, dried (1.5 tablespoons if fresh)
- Italian parsley, a small handful, coarsely chopped
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 300 ml fat-free milk (about 1 and 1/3 cup)
- 100 ml sunflower oil (just less than half cup)
Thaw the Phylo dough (which comes in frozen packaging). This will take 2-5 hrs depending on the brand. Or you can thaw one in the fridge overnight.
On medium high, heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic and the onions, stirring frequently, and sauté until translucent, approximately 7-8 minutes. Add the ground lamb, using a wooden spoon to break down clumps. Cook 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chili pepper, cinnamon, thyme, parsley and salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
In a bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and sunflower oil for about 30 seconds until well combined. Set aside.
Grease a 9×13 oven-safe dish. Unwrap the Phylo dough. Using two sheets of dough per side, create flaps overhanging from each of the four sides of the dish. These flaps should hang over approximately 2-3 inches from the edge of the dish. The rest of the sheets will rest inside the dish. Using a pastry brush, brush the sheets with 1/4 cup of the milk and egg mixture. Create another layer of dough using two sheets and brush with 1/8 cup of milk and egg mixture. Do this four more times. Then add another layer with two sheets and this time, cover the layer with approximately 60% of the lamb filling.
Create four more layers of dough using two sheets each and moisten with 1/8 cup of milk and egg mixture. Add another layer and cover it with rest of the meat mixture. Use up the remainder of the dough making layers of two sheets and brushing each layer with the milk and egg mixture.
When done, fold the overhanging flaps of Phylo on to the dish and pour the remaining milk and egg mixture on top. Using a paring knife, make a dozen small incisions on top, allowing juices to penetrate lower levels. If you run out of milk and egg mixture, just use more milk.
Bake for 40-45 minutes. During baking, the pastry may puff up. Do not intervene. Once the color turns golden brown, remove from oven and let it (and the puffing) rest 10-20 minutes. Like most lamb dishes, it tastes even better the next day.
Makes 20-25 servings (2-inch squares).
Here are the nutritional facts: