This is a yummy meat pie often enjoyed in Greece. Of course, every household has their own version - this one's mine. The mushrooms are not traditional at all. They're my way of making the pie even tastier and ensuring my kids enjoy a vegetable they wouldn't otherwise eat. This could be served either as a snack (as eaten as street food here in Greece) or as a main, accompanied by a nice salad. Great to bring along, fully-baked, to a picnic or potluck.
- olive oil
- 1 kg ground beef
- 350 g mushrooms, chopped fine, as for duxelles (optional)
- 2 large onions, small dice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano (Mediterranean is best)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese or 1 cup kefalotiri
- 1 cup chopped minced parsley
- 4 eggs, beaten to blend
- salt and pepper
- 500 g phyllo pastry
- In a large saucepan, coat bottom of pan with olive oil and add ground beef (and mushrooms, if using). Cook, breaking up meat with back of spoon, and stirring often until meat and mushrooms are browned and liquid emitted has evaporated (make sure all the liquid has evaporated - you don't want a soggy pita!).
- Add onions, garlic, tomato paste, oregano and cinnamon and cook until liquid emitted from onions has evaporated, too.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times to bring hot filling up (to cool faster).
- Add cheese, parsley and eggs to meat filling and combine thoroughly to blend. Taste filling and adjust seasoning to suit your taste.
- In a 15 x 10 inch pan (or large pan), layer half the phyllo sheets, brushing each one generously with olive oil (use a pastry brush), before adding the next sheet of pastry.
- Pour the meat filling into the phyllo-lined pan.
- Layer the remaining phyllo sheets in the same way, over the filling, brushing each one generously with olive oil before adding the next sheet of pastry. When you reach the last sheet (the top one), brush this one slightly more generously than the rest, tuck in any overhang you have neatly into the pie and score pie, lengthwise, into 4, using the tip of a small, sharp knife and making sure you don't cut all the way through the bottom of the pastry (just the top crust and slightly into the filling).
- Position baking rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 190°C (375°F).
- Bring your pan next to the sink and run the cold water tap. Wet the tips of your fingers and shake the water onto the pastry. Do this a few times to ensure droplets of water fall all over the pastry (this ensures a crisp crust upon baking).
- Bake pie for approximately one hour, until you achieve a deep golden crust. If you have a flat-bottomed oven (no element), do put your pan on the floor of the oven for the last 20 minutes or so to ensure an even crisper bottom crust.
- The pita is best slightly warm or at room temperature.