Traditional Albanian Byrek with Meat Sauce

Albanian byrek with meat sauce | All that's Jas

This traditional Albanian dish – Byrek with Meat Sauce is a guest post by Xhulio Jamaku.

Meat byrek from Albania

With this guest post by Xhulio, All that’s Jas concludes the series of guest posts.

 

A classic Albanian dish of fillo dough stuffed with meat sauce, byrek is part of the cuisine of many Mediterranean countries. It’s also known as “burek“, “borek”, “boureki” or “pita”.

 

Byrek is a very popular dish in the Balkan region. Each country has its own variation of this amazing pie. It can be savory or sweet, but most importantly, it is always delicious.

 

When I lived in Albania, I always cooked dinner and my twin sisters would help me. But on days we didn’t have much time we would make byrek, because with store-bought fillo dough it only takes about 10 minutes of preparation time.

 

We always argued on the choice of filling, though. My favorite is farmer’s cheese, my father likes spinach and ricotta, and my sister is a fan of today’s recipe, byrek with meat sauce.

 

I cannot count how many times I have burned byrek in the oven, but what I can count is the number of steps to make it and how to make it from scratch.

 

#1 Prepare the filling

For the filling of this recipe, we need three simple ingredients, beef, tomatoes, and onions. We cook the meat and onions and then combine with tomato sauce and simmer until thickened. Everything is made from scratch.

 

#2 Prepare the dough

We make the dough with flour and water, divide and roll out into 12 paper-thin fillo sheets.

 

#3 Assemble

Finally, we butter and layer half the fillo sheets into a pan, spread with the meat filling and layer with the other half of fillo sheets; brush with the egg wash and bake to perfection.

 

Albanian Byrek with Meat Sauce Recipe

Homemade byrek with meat sauce is a traditional Albanian dinner dish that can be made with different fillings. #byrek #guestpost #dinner #recipe Click To Tweet

Meat byrek by Xhulio

 

INGREDIENTS:

For the filling

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ pound chuck roast or steak, finely diced
  • 4 medium tomatoes

For the dough

  • 1 pound flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick), melted

For the egg wash

  • 1 egg, beaten

 

~ Xhulio’s Tip ~

  • If Byrek rises during baking, poke a few holes with a fork during baking for air to escape.
  • If you want to bake it faster, increase the temperature, but it will not be as crispy.
  • Mix Greek yogurt with salt and a bit of water for a great beverage that goes perfectly with Byrek.

 

DIRECTIONS:

To make the filling
  1. In a large bowl, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced beef and fry for 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook, until the onions are soft.
  2. Peel the tomatoes (instructions here) and blend in a blender or food processor with ½ cup water until smooth.
  3. Add tomato puree to the meat mixture, cover and simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated and the sauce is thickened. Season the meat sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

 

To make the dough
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, olive oil, and water until the dough forms. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth, elastic, soft, and doesn’t stick to your fingers, about 10 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and knead them into a ball shape.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Working with one piece at a time (keep the rest covered), use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a paper-thin sheet in the shape of the pan you are going to use for baking. In my case, the baking pan has a rectangular shape. It is suggested to use a round shape because it is easier to roll the dough.

 

To assemble
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease a 10×15 inch jelly roll pan. Place one sheet of fillo into the prepared pan and gently pull up the ends. Brush the sheet with melted butter. Repeat with five more sheets.
  3. Spread the filling on top of sheets to cover completely. Repeat layering and brushing with butter the remaining six fillo sheets. Fold the sides up (see picture).
  4. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash. Bake the byrek pie until golden brown in color, about 40 to 50 minutes. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

preparation of byrek

Assembling of byrek

Albanian Byrek with Meat Sauce Recipe
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hrs
 
Homemade byrek with meat sauce is a traditional Albanian dinner dish that can be made with different fillings.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Albanian
Servings: 6
Author: Jas
Ingredients
For the filling
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped
  • ½ pound chuck roast or steak finely diced
  • 4 medium tomatoes
For the dough
  • 1 pound flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup butter 1 stick, melted
For the egg wash
  • 1 egg beaten
Instructions
To make the filling
  1. In a large bowl, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced beef and fry for 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook, until the onions are soft.
  2. Peel the tomatoes (instructions here) and blend in a blender or food processor with ½ cup water until smooth.
  3. Add tomato puree to the meat mixture, cover and simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated and the sauce is thickened. Season the meat sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
To make the dough
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, olive oil, and water until the dough forms. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth, elastic, soft, and doesn't stick to your fingers, about 10 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and knead them into a ball shape. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Working with one piece at a time (keep the rest covered), use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a paper-thin sheet in the shape of the pan you are going to use for baking. In my case, the baking pan has a rectangular shape. It is suggested to use a round shape because it is easier to roll the dough.
To assemble
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan. Place one sheet of fillo into the prepared pan and gently pull up the ends. Brush the sheet with melted butter. Repeat with five more sheets.
  3. Spread the filling on top of sheets to cover completely. Repeat layering and brushing with butter the remaining six fillo sheets. Fold the sides up (see picture).
  4. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash. Bake the byrek pie until golden brown in color, about 40 to 50 minutes. Serve it warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

~ Xhulio's Tip ~ 

  • If Byrek rises during baking, poke a few holes with a fork during baking for air to escape.
  • If you want to bake it faster, increase the temperature, but it will not be as crispy.
  • Mix Greek yogurt with salt and a bit of water for a great beverage that goes perfectly with Byrek.

 

Xhulio CooksBIO: Xhulio Jamaku is Albanian Sofware Engineer with a passion for cooking since his childhood.  He started working as a food prep at the age of 15 and had the chance to work in the USA as a cook at Cockatoo Portuguese Restaurant in Maine. Xhulio won a cooking competition in Albania for the Best Recipe with his Brownie Cheesecake. He blogs at Xhulio Cooks.

 

 

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Jas

publisher and creative director at All that's Jas
Jas is a cheesecake addict and the author of Balkan Comfort Food cookbook available on Amazon. You can download a free excerpt of the book when you subscribe to All that's Jas newsletter updates or purchase the full version below. To learn more about Jas visit her About page.
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