Balkan Lamb and Leek Pie

By • January 4, 2013 • 38 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.
Jump to Comments (38)

Comments (38) Questions (1)

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Sara_clevering

8 months ago sarabclever

I love burek. I've made it a few times at home, but really, I should be exploring all the variations shouldn't I? Glad to see you spotlighting this!

Dscn3274

8 months ago inpatskitchen

Thanks so much sara!

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10 months ago Andrea K

This is my second time making this pie. I've never worked with phyllo before but it was easy and delicious.

Dscn3274

10 months ago inpatskitchen

Thanks! So glad you enjoyed!

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11 months ago diana

We are Greek. My mother in law makes her own phyllo with a sawed off broom stick, which she had brought with her to the US when coming over for our wedding. She made this "strifti pita" (twisted pita) with cheese, and greens, among other forms of pites ranging from savory to sweet. So many home cooks have their own recipes that they pass down from generation to generation, and sometimes tweak to add their own twist, creating a new thumbprint in a family tradition. My grandparents make the individual triangular pites. When I make spanakopita (spinach pies) & tiropites (cheese pies) I make the triangles and freeze them unbaked, and pull out as many as I need to bake at a time. :)

Dscn3274

11 months ago inpatskitchen

So many variations of these pies....my mom always made rolls....my dad's wife does the spinach in triangles....but all in all, they a

Dscn3274

11 months ago inpatskitchen

Sorry...all in all they are all wonderful!

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11 months ago mara lepri

made it tonight, and it was great. thanks for posting!

Dscn3274

11 months ago inpatskitchen

Thank YOU mara lepri! Glad you liked it!

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12 months ago Darinne

Another Balkan star is phyllo stuffed with fried onions (a lot of it, walnuts, roasted red pepper and all the fresh herbs you can get. This is one hails form Bulgaria

Dscn3274

12 months ago inpatskitchen

That sounds so good! There are so many variations of "banitsa"!

100_0642

12 months ago MrsK

Darinne, do you mean onions that have been sauteed? That sounds delicious!

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12 months ago Darinne

Sauteed, indeed! Excuse my English. And yes, it is really, really delicious, no matter how heavy it may get. True comfort/grandma/cold day food.

100_0642

about 1 year ago MrsK

inpatskitchen: I had to let you know I made your recipe and it was astoundingly delicious! I cut it into 4 pieces and put 1/4 in my dish; my husband took a bite and got the 3/4 left! It was THAT delicious. And I used regular ground meat--not easy to get lamb where I live, but I'll try next time. That's a big-time keeper and thank you so much for sharing.

Dscn3274

about 1 year ago inpatskitchen

I'm so glad you and your husband enjoyed. Ground beef is perfectly acceptable...I use it often in this as did my mom. Thanks so much!

100_0642

over 1 year ago MrsK

(PS: the purists will forgive me, please?)

100_0642

over 1 year ago MrsK

inpatskitchen: I'm wondering here how this would taste if instead of leeks, zucchini was used... (I'm a sucker for zucchini!) I don't know, I feel like even julienned carrots might work with this... What about fresh green beans sliced on a bias?

Dscn3274

over 1 year ago inpatskitchen

Why not? There are so many versions of this and I think yur ideas sound great! let me know how it goes...

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over 1 year ago neonkitty

I'm originally from Sarajevo, Bosnia, and I'm so glad to see this recipe on Food52. It is one of my favorite dishes and I love it when my mom and aunt make their version of it (and there are so many). I hope you post many more! x

Dscn3274

over 1 year ago inpatskitchen

Thanks so much neonkitty! I have a few others posted on the site..

Me

over 1 year ago TheWimpyVegetarian

This looks fantastic Pat. I took a class from a woman from Eastern Europe who made this with her homemade dough every week. She rolled and stretched her dough out with a sawed off broomstick. Amazing to watch her make this. And it was sooooo good. Thanks so much for posting this with phyllo - I don't eat lamb anymore, but I could turn this into a vegetarian one pretty easily. Love this!!

Dscn3274

over 1 year ago inpatskitchen

Oh yes...try spinach or leek..fantastic and actually my favorites! I have one posted with spinach, scallions and leek here but not coiled. And thanks!

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over 1 year ago Vivian Henoch

Mmm -- looks like something different for Super Bowl this year. Saved.

Dscn3274

over 1 year ago inpatskitchen

Thanks Vivian! Please let me know how it goes...

6-14-4_053

almost 2 years ago thirteenJ

Congrats, inpats!!!
Looks beautiful..I would love to see the spinach and cheese recipes!!

Dscn3274

almost 2 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks thirteenJ! I do have one posted called "Mom Would Be Proud Scallion Leek and Spinach Pie" which is pretty much a basic recipe. Just add more spinach and skip the leek for spinach pie.

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almost 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

wow

Dscn3274

almost 2 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you Barbara!

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almost 2 years ago GiGi26

Congratulations!!! It's a beauty!

Dscn3274

almost 2 years ago inpatskitchen

You're always too kind! Thanks!

Moi_1

almost 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

Congrats. I love love love this dish!

Dscn3274

almost 2 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks!

Dsc_0048b

almost 2 years ago healthierkitchen

Saved - this is a beauty!

Dscn3274

almost 2 years ago inpatskitchen

Oh thank you so much! And it's easy to make..please let me know what you think if you make it.

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almost 2 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Big double yum on this - love the peppery lamby leekyness of it!!!

Dscn3274

almost 2 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks aargersi! It's all in the pepper!

3-bizcard

almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Wow, this sounds great. The phylo is the perfect crust for this pie. I need to make this, it just sounds wonderful.

Dscn3274

almost 2 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks suzanne... this time the phyllo cooperated... and it really is quite tasty!