Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pasteles de Carne, Salonika Meat-Filled Pies

The recipe for these meat pies comes from the traditions of the Sefaradi Jewish community in Salonika, Greece. Our job last weekend required us to plan a Shabbat meal for 16 teenagers and we were sure these pies would be a success. Like many other recipes we've been trying lately this one was adapted from the excellent Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden. The recipe requires some work, but is well worth the effort.

Ingredients (makes 15-18 pieces):

(for the dough)
125ml sunflower oil
125ml warm water
1/2 tsp salt
about 350 gr flour

(for the filling)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tbs sunflower oil
250 gr minced beef
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper
1 hard boil egg, chopped
1 egg lightly beaten
4 tbs finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)

The Recipe
The dough 
To make the dough mix the oil, water and salt with a fork in a large bowl. Gradually add the flour, first mixing with a fork and then continuing with your hands. Continue to add flour until the dough feels soft and springy, like the lobe of your ear. Leave aside covered in saran-wrap at room temperature (do not refridgerate).

The filling
To make the filling fry the onion in oil until golden. Add the beef, salt and plenty of pepper. Stir occasionally until the meat changes color. Mix in the sugar, cumin and cinnamon. Also add the pine nuts if you choose to use them. Add about 4 tbs water and cook for 5 minutes more. Let it cool, then add the rest of the ingredients.

To make the pies
Take lumps of dough the size of a small egg and shape into a ball. Hollow them out with your fingers and shape into little pots with straight sides. Make the walls as thin as possible. Fill with the mixture. Cover each pie with a flat lid made by flattening a tiny ball of dough. Pinch the edges together all around to seal the pies.

Arrange on trays and brush the top with a beaten egg. Bake in the oven at 180°C for 30 minutes or until golden. 

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