Meat pies are a must in all of the Levant, however, each region or community prepares them a bit differently; my grandmother used to add drained yogurt (labneh) to hers; these have pomegranate molasses which gives the pies a bit of a fruity flavor.
The dough is made with yogurt and is easy to work with; I let the dough rise all night covered in the fridge.
INGREDIENTS: 35 to 40 pies
For the dough: (recipe for the dough from alef ba’ al-tabekh, adapted)
- 5 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 1/4 cup of yogurt
- 4 teaspoons of instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- Oil, as needed to stretch the dough into pies
- 1 pound of fatty lamb
- 1 tablespoon of red pepper paste or tomato paste
- 1/4 cup of pomegranate molasses
- 1/2 cup of pine nuts (preferably Lebanese or Turkish); can substitute other nuts
- 2 medium yellow onions
- Spices: 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, white pepper; 1/2 teaspoon of allspice, 1 teaspoon of hot Aleppo pepper (can substitute hot paprika or chili powder)
- 2 teaspoons of sugar (can substitute grape or carob molasses)
- 1 tablespoon of butter (to fry the pine nuts)
- Warm the yogurt one minute in the microwave; in the meantime, dilute the yeast with the sugar in 1/2 cup of warm water and let it bubble up. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl with the salt and mix for a couple of minutes. Add the warm yogurt, active yeast, and olive oil and mix until the dough is compact and still moist but not too sticky. Dampen your hands with oil and transfer the dough to a bowl to rise, all covered in a thin film of oil, for about two hours or overnight in the fridge (covered in plastic wrap).
- Prepare the filling: place the onions, cut in quarters, in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the onions are chopped fine. Add the meat, pepper or tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, spices and sugar and process for a minute until all the ingredients are well combined. Add the pine nuts (which have been previously fried in butter till caramel-colored).
- To make the pies: pour about 1/4 cup of oil in a small bowl and keep it nearby; dip your fingertips in the oil and take each small ball of dough and pat it to form a small pie; do this on the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place two generous tablespoons of filling on each pie and pat with the back of a spoon or your fingertips to make sure it gets incrusted in the dough.
- Bake the pies in a 400F oven for about 12-15 minutes, until the edges of the dough are golden and crisp. Serve warm or at room temperature with a side bowl of yogurt if desired and (or) some lemons, quartered.
NOTE: If you want to skip making the dough, an alternative is to use prepackaged biscuit dough in a can; you will 3 cans of 12 biscuits each.
This post has been submitted to the Yeaspotting site.