Börek (Cheese & Spinach and Meat Filiings)


Burek, börek, bureka, whatever you call these tasty little treats, they are guaranteed to be delicious. Serve these savoury Turkish pastries for breakfast or brunch with a side salad.


Servings: 12

Difficulty: Easy

Prep Time:  45 minutes   |   Cook Time: 40 minutes   |   Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients:

Cheese & Spinach Filling:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 16 cups fresh spinach leaves, about 4 bunches or 2 bags
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 cups feta cheese, crumbled

Meat Filling:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
  • 1 cup Yukon gold potato (approx. 1 large potato) cooked and finely grated

Pastry:

  • 1 package phyllo dough
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

Begin by making your filling.

For the Cheese and Spinach filling, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach leaves, salt and pepper. Toss the spinach mixture ever few minutes to allow all the leaves to cook down- you’ll end up with a tiny pile of spinach leaves at the end!

Once cooked, place the spinach mixture in a strainer and let all the water drain out. Use the back of a spoon to help you press the spinach mixture. You want to make sure that all the liquid is gone, or else the pastry will get soggy and fall apart. Once drained, let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Use a large knife to chop the spinach mixture finely- you don’t want any long pieces of spinach in the filling. Next, crumble in the feta cheese and mix to combine. Set aside until you are ready to fill the pastry.

For the Meat filling, place the potato in salted, boiling water for 15 minutes, or until fully cooked. Set aside to cool. While the potato is cooking, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Cook over medium high heat until the meat is fully cooked, about 10 minutes. As the meat cooks, break it up into small pieces so that you can easily fill the pastry. Once fully cooked, remove from the heat and let cool.

While the meat mixture is cooling, use a box grater (or potato ricer) to grate that potato into thin pieces into the meat mixture. Once grated, mix to fully combine. Set aside to cool completely.

To assemble the pastries:

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lightly grease it with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Alternatively you can cook these in a cast iron pan that has been oiled as well.

In a small bowl, combine the eggs, milk, melted butter and oil together and mix to combine. Set aside.

Unwrap your phyllo dough from the wrapper and lay a single sheet on your work surface with the long edge closest to you. Use a pastry brush to lightly dot the egg mixture across the sheet of phyllo dough. You don’t have to get every inch of the pastry covered, just enough to make it sticky. Add another sheet of phyllo dough on top and lightly brush the egg mixture on the new sheet. Pro tip: when you are not using the remaining pile of phyllo sheets, cover them with a damp cloth or paper towel to keep them moist…or else they will dry out and break!

Scoop out 3-4 tablespoons of filling and lay it across the long edge in a line reaching from edge to edge. You may need more filling depending on the length of the phyllo sheets you have, but i found that 3-4 tablespoons worked well for me.

Next, carefully take the edge of the phyllo pastry closest to you and wrap it over the filling. Continue to roll up the pastry around the filling until you are left with one long snake of filling wrapped in dough.

Take one end of the pastry and curl it up on itself, wrapping the rest of the snake around it until you get a nice spiral shape. Tuck the outside edge underneath the pastry if there is excess phyllo dough at the end. Place the spiral into a cast iron pan or onto the baking tray and brush with some more of the egg mixture. This will make sure that it gets nice and browned on top. Repeat for the rest of the filling.

Once your borek are all assembled, bake in a 425 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Once cooked, remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!