Friday, May 15, 2009

Börek with Beef Filling

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's
Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Why did Constantinople get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Turks'

For the whole of my life up until a month ago, Turkey was never on my radar.

Sure, I was semi-aware that such a country existed with its unique location, one foot in Europe and one foot in Asia. But I was less than cognizant of its culture, history, and cuisine.

Three weeks ago, we started discussing potential places to visit in the near future. Which, knowing how little we organize and plan our lives, could mean sometime in the next three months or, knowing how slowly we move in our laziness, could mean sometime in the next five years. While we were just chattering in our idleness, TS mentioned Turkey.

Hm, Turkey, you say?

A pause and we were all quietly intrigued and contemplated the possibility.

We started perusing websites and brochures about the different trips to Turkey, and the more we knew about the different sights to visit and activities to do in this vast country, the more we wanted to go.

Well, we can't go to Turkey yet as of now, but at least, we thought we could be visiting the country through its cuisine from our little corner here. We chose Turkey for Regional Recipes this month (more information at the end of the post).

A few months ago, I discovered the blog Almost Turkish Recipes. Even after only a few minutes quickly browsing through it, I had already earmarked several "to-make" recipes. But, of course, with procrastination, we never did make any of these recipes.

Not long after that, I discovered another Turkish food blog, Give Recipe. I really love how in her posts, Zerrin includes descriptions of everyday Turkish life, or Turkish facts, or even jokes!

Reading her post on Borek with Potato, and many other börek posts, I became convinced that börek was one of those foods that was an integral part of Turkish life. Because of that and its flexibility (they come in different shapes and with any filling), I decided we had to make it.

I decided to base my börek on Almost Turkish Recipes' Zucchini Börek (Kabak Böreği) and Give Recipe's Borek with Minced Meat.

(We also chose several other Turkish dishes and will be posting about them soon!)

Beef Filling
We decided to go with a beef filling since we had a lot of ground beef lying around (why, I don't know) and because we knew that it would probably be the most popular.

I sautéed some onions in olive oil, added the ground beef, then flavored the lot with red pepper paste, and salt and pepper. A bunch of parsley was added at the end.

Red Pepper Paste is a common Turkish ingredient. We did a little shopping before embarking on our Turkish culinary journey, coming home with zucchinis, eggplants, bulgur, pomegranate molasses and this, red pepper paste. We only hope we chose the correct one, as there were various other brands and types available at the store.

Filling the Pastry
There were many different "shape" options for borek. However, I was most impressed with the coiled ring shape. It definitely has wow factor!

I used phyllo sheets as a substitute for round yufka sheets, simply doing 2 layers of phyllo per one yukfa sheet.

Instead of melted butter or plain olive oil, I learned that a mixture of yogurt and/or milk with egg and olive oil was sometimes used to brush the dough between layers.

To make our börek, I started with 2 sheets of phyllo, brushed them with the yogurt-egg-oil mixture, added another sheet of phyllo, then placed a thin strip of beef filling.

I started rolling and started coiling the thin logs onto my baking sheet.

I repeated until I had run out of filling. I then brushed the coiled-ring börek with the remaining yogurt-egg-oil mixture.

In the oven it went: 375F for about 45 to 55 minutes or so, until golden brown.

a slice of our börek

I thought TS was going to do just a standard layered pie so I was very pleasantly astounded when I saw she was making the börek in the coiled-ring shape! They were pretty even when cut into wedges, with rings of pastry filled with the beef mixture.

I loved the börek with beef filling. I'm always a sucker for savoury pastries and this one hit the spot. The overall flavour was very familiar, in that there was nothing in the beef filling that could be construed as "alien." There was just the tiniest hint of the far-away and exotic, with the paprika and the pepper paste.

Stay tuned, as we will have more Turkish delights posted soon! (But, no actual Turkish Delight.)

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eatingclub vancouver Turkish
Börek with Beef Filling
Kısır (Turkish Bulgur "Tabbouleh")
Çılbak Köfte (Turkish Bulgur Kofte)
Mualle (Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses)
Etli Biber Dolmasi (Stuffed Peppers with Groundmeat)

eatingclub vancouver
in Turkey (September 2010)

Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) (Istanbul, Turkey)
Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) (Istanbul, Turkey)
Topkapı Sarayı (Palace) Museum (Istanbul, Turkey)
Turkey Flora
Hierapolis Ruins and Travertines (Pamukkale, Turkey)


Börek with Beef Filling
Makes one round, approximately 12" in diameter

1/2 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 kg ground beef (approx. 1 pound)
2 Tbsp
red pepper paste
1 bunch parsley, chopped
salt & pepper

One can use hot paprika and a squeeze of lemon juice as a substitute for the red pepper paste.

1 pkg phyllo sheets (1 pound)

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Turn heat to high and add ground beef and red pepper paste. Cook until beef is cooked through. Turn off heat. Add chopped parsley and season to taste. Set aside and let cool.

Mix together yogurt, egg, milk and olive oil.

Grease a baking sheet (at least 12" X 12" in size) or line with parchment paper.

On a work surface, place 2 sheets of phyllo dough, brush with the yogurt mixture, then add another sheet of phyllo. Place a thin strip of beef filling on the long side of the rectangle and start rolling to form a thin log.

Place the log on the prepped baking sheet and roll into a coil.

Repeat above procedure -- making logs filled with beef mixture -- and add these logs onto the coil on the baking sheet. Make enough logs until beef filling is used up. You may have leftover phyllo sheets.

Brush top of coiled-ring pastry with any remaining yogurt mixture.

Place börek into the oven and bake until golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve.

Blazing Hot WokWe're submitting this to Regional Recipes, a blogging event created by Blazing Hot Wok that celebrates food from all over the world.

The region for this edition is Turkey. The round-up will be hosted by Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok and will be posted around May 20.

Regional Recipes information

Our Regional Recipes posts:
Greek Meatball Soup (Giouvarlakia)
Simmered Saba Mackerel with Daikon Radish (Saba Oroshi-ni)
Thai Fried Chicken
Roast Pork Belly with Puy Lentils
Beef "Ribbon" Kebab (Pasanda Kabab) with Cilantro Chutney
Canadian Onion Soup with Oka Cheese
Börek with Beef Filling
Korean Pork Bulgogi (with Muu Namul, Kong Namul)
Lobster Congee from a Lobster Feast
Pork Jowl (Pork Cheeks) with Brown Sugar Rub
Beef Salpicao
Cuban Arroz con Salchichas (Yellow Rice with Vienna Sausages)
Cuban Pastelitos de Guayaba y Queso (Guava and Cheese Pastries)
Vietnamese Spring Roll (Cha Gio)
Grilled Fish Fillet on Oregano
Pastéli (Greek Sesame Snaps)


  1. Oooh, so fancy! I've seen photos of borek before and have always wanted to try it.

    How could I have forgotten the song? Also, Troy is supposed to be in Turkey too.

  2. I've never heard of this actually. Looks amazing1

  3. that looks great -- and I love all little tips for making this work.

  4. Whoa, that is majestic! So, you cut it into wedges to serve right?

  5. Oh wow, the coiling makes it look so special. I bet it tasted amazing too

  6. ladies, I am just back to reading about food (and for that matter eating) after months of morning sickness. I was glad to see this recipe. My husband and I love this dish, though we haven't made it in years. Maybe mid-summer when I better, i will try it.

  7. I must admit, I love you both - but now that you've got that They Might Be Giants song stuck in my head I'm reconsidering...

  8. WOW! That looks great, like something a you'd see at dinner in any Turkish household! I'm looking forward to seeing your other Turkish posts.

  9. This looks wonderful! I've been intimidated by trying this at home, considering a woman here in Chicago makes it for her restaurant... and she's pretty quick! You can check out her youtube video and watch her make it...

  10. This looks like a must try to me. Your photograph makes it very appealing. Can't wait to see your other posts.

  11. What an amazing pastry swirl! The filling sounds tasty!

  12. Wandering Chopsticks:
    Hehe, i guess I made the correct choice picking this shape for our borek! =D Yeah, it's at a place called Canakkale, I think (re Troy). (Hey, we really did study some travel destinations in Turkey!)

    Thanks! We discovered quite a number of yummy-sounding dishes looking for Turkish recipes.

    Yup, wedges. And each wedge looks the picture above. That is, there are chambers of phyllo filled with meat.

    It was pretty good! But the wow-factor of that coil shape can't be beat. =)

    maybelle's mom:
    Glad to see you back!!! Hope you get to 100% pretty soon! We ourselves had just learned about borek not too long ago (like, 3 months ago, tops)!

    Sweet Bird:
    Haha, actually, I didn't even know it was a widely-known song. Is it?

    Oh! Let me check out the video.

    Thanks! They're all up now. =)

  13. This enormous coil would be fabulous as the centrepiece for a party. You'd just have to celebrate as you cut into the layers and revealed those lovely little pockets of beef. Loved this post.


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