Burek, also spelled börek, is a filled pastry made with flaky phyllo dough. It is believed that burek originated from what is now turkey in the old Ottoman Empire. Since its creation, burek has become a very popular dish in North Africa, the Balkans, and even Southern Slavic countries. Given its international footprint, burek has been adapted to different cuisines. It is available with a variety of fillings and flavors and may be prepared as individual pastries or in a large pan and cut after baking.
In the former Yugoslavia, burek is traditionally a meat-filled pastry and can be eaten any time of the day. In Slavic cuisines, burek is typically rolled into individual pinwheel-shaped pastries, and can be found in bakeries and dedicated burek stores where it is often sold with yogurt. In this burek recipe, these baked meat rolls are shaped like snails and filled with a flavorful ground beef mixture. They can be served as an entree or be made into smaller versions for appetizers.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 box phyllo pastry sheet (12 inches x 17 inches)
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
- Heat a large frying pan over medium-low to medium heat and add the oil.
- Sauté the onion until soft, and then add the ground beef, allspice, paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook until the meat is crumbly but not dry. Cool completely before you continue.
- While ground beef mixture is cooling, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once cooled, lay one sheet of phyllo dough on the counter. Keep the remaining sheets of phyllo dough covered with plastic, and work quickly to prevent in from drying out.
- Brush sheet with some of the melted butter. Place a heaping 1/3 cup of meat mixture on the sheet along the long side, 2 inches from the edge.
- Fold the bottom over the meat mixture and roll into a snake shape. Cut the roll in half and coil each roll into a snail shape.
- Place rolled dough and ground beef pinwheel on a nonstick baking sheet and butt the end up against the edge of the pan to prevent uncoiling. Brush with additional butter. Continue until you've used all the ground beef.
- Bake in a preheated oven 15 to 20 minutes or until just golden.
A hint for handling phyllo dough: Be sure the dough is at room temperature before you open the box. Place the sheets of dough on a large cookie sheet and cover them with plastic wrap and then a heavy towel. In this way, they will not dry out while you are working with them. Work fast for best results and do not have the butter too hot when brushing the dough.
Recipe Source: The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors by Jeff Smith (Wm Morrow)
Reprinted with permission.