Beef & Blackberry Börek
Comfort food for any time of the day, this börek is filled with stewed meat and freshly picked, tangy-sweet blackberries.
Yesterday, August 11th, was the first day of Ramadan. A breakfast radio show item gave us unbelievers an impression of how hard that would be this time of year. No eating between sunrise and sunset means breakfast at 4 AM, and the next meal only at half past 9 PM or so.
I thought this would be a great time to try and see if I could match that with my own resolve to eat less, but better. So… the effect of just one day of skipping lunch, and of *not* snacking something with every cup of tea, is that I find my house is absolutely *filled* with food; all of a sudden my hungry eyes detect something edible everywhere I look. And in the afternoon, when a collegue mentioned blackberries, somebody else mailed me a recipe for Cornish pasties with beef, and I was thinking thinking thinking of dinner, I dreamed up this mash-up with beef and blackberries.
Even the food of tramps looks like candy now – or is that one mocking me?
Fortunately, börek is a versatile snack, and it can be filled with whatever you’d like – vegetables, cheese, meat. It’s found not only in Turkey but in its neighboring countries as well. Here’s a Slovenian rapper, singing about “burek” Ali En – Sirni & Mesni (cheese & meat): Boo-rek! Boo-rek! Lol! Something else I cannot get out of my head now. And check out that song called Burek Oboma – what would that be all about I wonder?
I adapted my recipe from the one at Almost Turkish Recipes, a great and inspiring blog, where I also got the idea of using some tangy flavoured fruit to go with the meat.
I guess my Dutch mashup is only in style: traditional, lean and humble stewed beef (“draadjesvlees”) softened with Turkish pomegranate syrup. Freshly picked blackberries, the real down-home “locally sourced” forest fruit; fat Greek yoghurt, and a thinly rolled dough, Lebanese style, to crisply wrap it. “Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder”, oh yeah baby – and it makes us better cooks too :-)
The dough is the same recipe as the one I used for the Lebanese tahini scrolls: using flour for pizza, it’s able to stretch into a very thin layer. Even so my börek does look more bread-like than a crisp roll of brittle phillo pastry. I like that, but I’m not sure if it’s “right”. Maybe I should try it with
some phillo dough next time? Update: made a version 2 without yeast – go compare!
recipe: Beef & Blackberry Börek
This amount is for a 17 cm round börek, for 2 to 3 portions
- 200 gr flour with yeast (ready-made mix for pizza)
- 120 ml water
- 1 tablesp olive oil
- 200 gr braising steak or beef skirt
(Dutch: sukadelappen; stoofvlees)
- optional: 1 thick slice of bacon
- 1 tablesp pomegranate syrup (nar ekşisi)
- handful pine nuts
- handful small blackberries
- 3 tablesp olive oil
- 2 tablesp Greek yoghurt
- (cooled juices from cooked beef)
Start by getting everything out of the fridge, so it can get to room temperature.
Quickly mix up a dough with the flour, oil and luke-warm water, and knead it only long enough to get it supple and evenly mixed. Form it into a flattened ball. Cover and get on with the next step.
Cut up the beef in small chunks: larger than minced meat, but smaller or not as long as shoarma. If using, cut up the bacon in pieces that resemble the blackberries in size. Cook the meat in a bit of olive oil over a medium heat, until well browned; about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add one tablespoon of pomegranate syrup; its acidity and that of the berries helps to render the stewing meat tender, and I love its tangy-sweet flavour. Stir to cover everything; leave to cool down.
When cooled, combine the meat without its juices in a bowl with the pine nuts and the blackberries.
Pour the remaining juices from the skillet onto a mixture of olive oil and yoghurt in a separate bowl. This makes a fatty brush-on layer to be used on the dough in the next step.
Now flour your work surface well, and roll out the dough into a long, thin rectangle of about 85 x 35 cm. If the dough starts to stretch and shrink back, roll it up and cover, rest it for 5 minutes, and then resume rolling it out. The gluten will have developed in that time and allow it to be stretched even further.
When the rectangle is large enough, drizzle some of the yoghurt-oil mix over it with a spoon, and brush it out. With your hands, divide the filling as a long thin sausage over the full length of the dough, leaving twice its width from the top of one side. Flip that side over the filling, and press down to remove air from the sausage. Now gently roll up the dough and stretch it to become even longer and thinner. You can end up with a dough roll of about 120 cm!
Place a square of baking parchment under one end of the dough roll. Fix that end as center, and circle the rest of the roll around it. Use the baking parchment to lift the roll onto a baking tray (or round pizza tray). Brush its top with more of the yoghurt-oil mixture. Scatter some sesame seeds and/or black nigella seeds on top. Leave to let the yeast work for about 15 minutes, in which time you can pre-heat the oven to 175°C.
Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes at 175°C; keep an eye on it so that the thin layers do not get too dark. You could get the börek out 5 minutes before time, to brush some more olive oil over it; this gives it a nice, deeper brown color. When it’s done, cut some wedges and serve hot.