Saturday, January 5, 2013

Balkan Lamb and Leek Pie

Call it pita, banitsa or zelnik, the people of the Balkans love their filled phyllo pies.  Cheese, leeks, spinach, cabbage, pumpkin, apple or meat fill these.  My mom used to make one filled with ground beef, onion and a lot of black pepper(I mean a lot of black pepper!).  I decided to use ground lamb and leek and coil the little rolls into a round baking dish.  This makes a small 10 inch pie but you can certainly double the ingredients to fill a 14 or 15 inch deep dish pizza pan.

Makes on 10 inch pie

1  1/4 pounds ground lamb
3 medium leeks, cleaned, cut lengthwise and then crosswise in 1/4 inch half moons (you should have about 4 cups) Use the white and pale green part only.
8 Tbl butter, divided (3/5)
1 Tbl coarse black pepper
2 tsp salt
1/2 package phyllo dough (thawed overnight in the fridge if frozen)

In a large saute pan, brown the ground lamb, breaking the clumps of meat up with a wooden spoon as you go.  Once browned, drain the meat thoroughly and place in a medium mixing bowl to cool.
Wipe out the same saute pan and melt 3 Tbl of the butter in it.  Add the leeks and saute gently until very soft.  Add the leeks to the meat.
Stir in the salt and pepper.  I know this seems like a lots of pepper, but that's the beauty of this pie.  let the mixture cool thoroughly.
Now... time to get rolling.  Pre heat the oven to 350F and then melt the remaining 5 Tbl butter.  With a pastry brush, coat the bottom and sides of a 10 inch round baking dish with some of the melted butter.
Unwrap the phyllo dough on a work surface and keep any unused phyllo covered with a very damp tea towel.  Take two sheets of phyllo and sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the meat mixture along the bottom edge of the longer side.  Roll the meat mixture to form a small log and then place this along the edge of the baking dish.  Continue making logs and place the in a coiled fashion in the baking dish until the dish is filled.
Generously butter the top of the pie with most of the remaining melted butter and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden.  Serve warm or at room temperature.
NOTE:  This can be made ahead.  Just brush a little more butter over the top and place in a 300F oven for about 15 minutes.

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