Balkan Lamb and Leek Pie

By • January 4, 2013 40 Comments

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Author Notes: Call it pita, banitsa or zelnik, the people of the Balkans love their filled phyllo pies. Cheese, leeks, spinach, cabbage, pumpkin, apple or meat fill these. My mom used to make one filled with ground beef, onion and a lot of black pepper (I mean a lot of black pepper!). I decided to use ground lamb and leek and coil the little rolls into a round baking dish. This makes a small 10-inch pie but you can certainly double the ingredients to fill a 14 or 15-inch deep dish pizza pan.inpatskitchen

Food52 Review: This dish came together quickly and easily. The rolls of phyllo baked up perfectly and gave every bite lots of crunch, as well as a beautiful presentation. I served it hot with a dollop of Greek yogurt to balance the spiciness of the black pepper.Karen McCarthy


Makes one 10-inch pie

  • 1 1/4 pounds ground lamb
  • 3 medium leeks, white and light green part only, cleaned, cut lenghtwise and then crosswise in 1/4 inch half moons. (you should have about 4 cups)
  • 8 tablespoons butter, divided (3/5)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 package phyllo dough (thawed overnight in the fridge if purchased frozen)
  1. In a large sauté pan, brown the ground lamb, breaking the clumps of meat up with a wooden spoon as you go. Once browned, drain the meat thoroughly and place in a medium mixing bowl to cool.
  2. Wipe out the same sauté pan and melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in it. Add the leeks and sauté gently until very soft. Add the leeks to the meat.
  3. Stir in the salt and pepper. I know that this seems like a lot of pepper, but that's the beauty of this pie. Let the mixture cool thoroughly.
  4. Now, time to get rolling. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F and then melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter. With a pastry brush, coat the bottom and sides of a 10-inch round baking dish with some of the melted butter.
  5. Unwrap the phyllo on a work surface and keep any unused phyllo covered with a very damp tea towel. Take two sheets of the phyllo and sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the meat mixture along the bottom edge of the longer side. Roll the meat mixture to form a small log and then place this along the edge of the baking dish. Continue making the logs and place them in a coiled fashion in the baking dish until the dish is filled.
  6. Generously butter the top of the pie with most of the remaining melted butter and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  7. NOTE: This can be made ahead. Just brush a little more butter over the top and place in a 300°F oven for about 15 minutes.

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