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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Turkish Beef and Cheese Böreks

We've encountered Böreks before, though by a different name. As was discussed then, they are found across the Middle East, and for the State Dinner at the Dolmabahçe, Oz decided to serve a Turkish style of Böreks, known as Sigara böreği, literally translating to "Cigarette Böreks." It's a descriptive name, coming from their construction: unlike the Israeli style seen at the Hanukkah Dinner,  these böreks are made with phyllo dough (or, traditionally, yufka) and rolled up like a cigarette, then fried—we chose to shallow-fry them in vegetable oil.

Oz says, "Phyllo dough is not ideal for this recipe—you should probably use yufka instead, or make kofte." Kofte is the meat mixture, lightly sautéed in olive oil and served. "It wouldn't be unheard-of to add an egg to the mixture, either," he adds.

For our dinner, we made two versions of these böreks, a cheese- and a meat-filled version, and we served them with zchug, as with the bourekas.

Cheese Sigara Böreği Filling
8 oz (227 g) Feta cheese
4 oz (113 g) Chèvre
2.5 tbsp (37 ml) chopped fresh parsley
1/3 c (71 ml) sweet onion, ground
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Yield: 12-15 Böreği
Meat Sigara Böreği Filling
1 lb (454 g) Ground Beef
1/2 c (118 ml) sweet onion, ground
2 tbsp (60 ml) chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tbsp (8 ml) hot paprika
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Yield: 16-20 Böreği


For both fillings, mix all ingredients well. For the cheese, take a small taste and evaluate the seasonings; for the meat filling, take a small portion—say a portion about half the size of a golf ball—flatten it out, and sauté it until it is cooked; taste and adjust your seasonings.

For both styles, you will need phyllo dough. It's commercially available throughout the United States, and I suspect elsewhere as well. (I know that you can find it at a variety of supermarkets—Kroger and similar stores—near me, and if you have a source in your area, please feel free to add a comment below!)

video 

Phyllo is difficult to work with—it's very thin, and therefore dries out quickly; to keep it in working order, keep a damp towel over your pile of phyllo sheets. In addition, you'll need a good amount of clarified butter and a pastry brush.

Brushing the Phyllo with butter.
Lay out one sheet of phyllo on a clean surface (a cutting board, a counter top or a sheet pan with parchment laid out, etc.) and brush it with the melted butter. The goal is not to soak it completely, but rather to have a light, even coating. If the dough has dried out slightly, you can sometimes save it by using a heavier hand with the butter in the drier areas.

Having brushed the first sheet, place a second sheet of phyllo directly over it, and repeat the procedure of brushing it with butter. A third sheet will be the final necessary for this dish. Brush it with butter, and cut with a pastry wheel (also known as a pizza cutter) into squares roughly 4-5 inches (11-13 cm) on each side. The phyllo that we used for this dinner was roughly 9 inches by 14 inches, so we cut six pieces of phyllo, about 4.5 inches by 4.6 inches. This is not an exact science, and you should use your judgement.

Many Böreks, prepared and waiting to be fried.
Place a portion of your filling, roughly the size of a wine cork, at one end of the phyllo. (This is usually about 1 ounce/28 grams of filling.) Roll it between your fingers to thin it out slightly so that it reaches closer to the ends of the dough, and roll it up. Brush the roll with butter and set aside.

Fill a 10"/25 cm diameter sautoir with about 1/2-3/4 inch (1.5-2 cm) of vegetable oil. Heat over medium-high heat, and when the oil begins to shimmer, carefully place the böreks in the oil, in batches of five or so at a time. They should immediately begin to bubble and sizzle in the oil—if they do not, the oil is not hot enough.

After one to two minutes, the böreks should be golden brown on one side. Flip them over in the oil using tongs, chopsticks, or a tool of your choice—carefully. When they are browned on both sides, remove them from the oil, making sure to drain them well, and place them on paper toweling to rest.

Serve with a sauce of your choice. (We used, of course, Zchug.)

5 comments:

  1. Hullo,
    I am a new reader from the link on "Steampunk"'s facebook page, and I just have to say: THANK YOU! I've been working on some Steampunk recipes myself, and I'm glad more foodies are showing their love for the gears and gadgets crowd. Also, the food you show here looks amazing :-)

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  2. I would love to include your posts and future posts on my newsletter and blog for Blanche's Place. I need to add a Steampunk section and would love to have you as a contributor. Let me know

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  3. those sound and look so yummy! Keep up the good work!

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  4. Masque—Glad to be of service! I try to combine modern taste with old-fashioned recipes and approaches. I've just finished a post for later this month about Mulligatawny soup, with a recipe that I think is absolutely killer.

    Dianne—Shoot me an e-mail via the contact portion on here, and if you need anything from me beyond my permission to mirror/link to my blog, we'll make it happen.

    Luveday—Thanks for your constant encouragement.

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  5. Aaron, really innovative combo, you're an arists!

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Your opinions and comments always are welcomed, but do be civil... this isn't a kitchen, after all.