Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 25, 2021
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Meat-filled griddle pasties (saç börek)

Börek is literally defined as “flaky pastry pie.” It’s actually an umbrella name for a myriad of savoury pastries that form one of Turkey’s favourite snacks. Both pastry and filling can vary greatly, and there are endless combinations to be made. Su börek (water börek) is a remarkable Anatolian variant: sheets of enriched phyllo are precooked, then layered, like lasagna, with a filling of cheese or meat, nuts and dried fruit, which is, finally, baked in the oven. This recipe uses a fairly plain dough with a meat filling. The pasties make a delicious lunch or supper dish, supplemented by a soup or salad. In Turkey, they would be cooked in a saç, a griddle shaped like an upturned shallow wok, but they are easy to make at home using a heavy frying pan. Two things are very important here: the meat must be very lean and the tomato must be fleshy and not watery or you’ll end up with a soggy, mushy product. Both the filling and the dough can be made several hours in advance and kept in a cool place until you’re ready to assemble.

For the dough
1 c. (250 ml) white bread flour
¼ tsp. (1.25 ml) salt
2 tsp. (10 ml) olive oil
5 tbsp. (75 ml) lukewarm water

For the filling
1 c. (250 ml) lean ground lamb or beef
1 tbsp. (15 ml) very finely chopped onion
¼ tsp. (1.25 ml) salt, or to taste
a few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
generous grind of pepper or sprinkle of chili flakes
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
butter, for brushing
flour, for dredging

Combine the ingredients for the dough and knead well for several minutes. The dough should be soft, but not sticky. It can also be kneaded in a food processor fitted with a plastic kneading attachment or a mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it on an oiled plate. Dust with flour and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside until needed or for at least 1 hour.

Combine the filling ingredients and set aside. If you’re going to set aside for several hours, omit the tomato and add it just before you’re ready to use the filling.

Preheat a large, heavy frying pan.

Divide the dough into 2 pieces and roll 1 piece out to a circle with a diameter of about 10 inches (25 cm), or slightly smaller if your frying pan is not that large. Spread half of the filling over half of the circle, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) free along the edge. Moisten the edge with a little water and fold to form a semicircle. Press the edges down to seal. This is important, or the filling will leak out while cooking.

Transfer the pasty to the hot pan and make the other one in the same way. Both will fit in the pan at the same time. After a few minutes, flip one pasty to check for nice golden patches. When both sides are cooked, transfer to plates and brush with butter. Eat warm. Makes 2.

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