I first learned about borek while watching an episode of Bon Appétit’s “A Day in the Life of a Chef”. The episode featured Juliana Latif, the Chef de Cuisine at the Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Zou Zou’s in NYC, which is near Penn Station. You can see the episode on YouTube here.
Zou Zou’s Duck Borek is done A l’Orange style based on the classic French duck dish, but it is with ground duck as it should be for borek.
There are a ton of different versions of borek. It is sometimes spelled burek as well. There are several Middle Eastern versions and some Mediterranean versions. Many of the recipes have just one or two spices in them, such as cumin, or paprika with salt and pepper. Some have coriander. I decided to make my own version that would really evoke the flavors I think of when dreaming about Middle Eastern spices, such as sweet paprika, cumin, coriander, Aleppo chiles, and cardamom. It’s all in there.
Lamb & Beef Börek
- 2 (9") round baking pans
- 16 oz ground lamb
- 16 oz ground beef 93% lean
- 1 large yellow onion minced
- 8 medium garlic cloves minced
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp coriander
- 2 tsp Aleppo chiles dried, crushed
- 1½ tsp cardamom
- ¼ cup olive oil plus 1 tbsp for egg wash
- 4 tbsp water
- 32 (9-x 14-inch) frozen phyllo pastry sheets thawed (such as Athens) (from 1 lb pkg.)
- 1 egg
- In a small bowl, or ramekin, mix all of the spices together. Set aside.
- Heat a pan with olive oil and then sauté onion for two minutes.
- Add garlic to pan and sauté for one more minute.
- Add the beef and lamb to the pan. Mix to combine everything and cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Drain the meat mixture and add back to the pan.
- On medium heat, stir the spice mixture into the meat along with 4 tbsp water, lower to medium-low, cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove meat mixture from heat and place in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes. (Warm meat with juice will ruin the delicate phyllo and make it soggy.)
Assembly, Final Cooking & Serving
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Lightly brush 2 (9") round baking pans with oil. Set aside.
- Place 1 phyllo sheet on a clean work surface, keeping remaining sheets covered with a damp towel (spritz it, don't soak it) to prevent them from drying out.
- Brush phyllo sheet lightly with 1 teaspoon oil. Top with a second phyllo sheet. Brush top of second sheet with 1 teaspoon oil.
- Place 2 oz of meat mixture in a thin line along 1 long side of phyllo sheet. Starting at filling end, roll phyllo (snug, but not too tight or it will tear) around filling to form a long log shape. Coil log to form a tight spiral. Set it in the center of one of the 9" pans.
- Repeat process, but only up to rolling phyllo around filling to form a long log shape. Bring it to the pan, and continue to form the coil where the first one left off, and keep going repeating the process until you fill the pan with what looks like one large coil. Then do it again in the second pan.
- Whisk 1 tbsp olive oil with the egg, and brush it onto the börek.
- Bake at 375°F for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. You can move to the second shelf under the broiler to help browning for the last 1-2 minutes.
- Let cool for 3-4 minutes, then remove from pans and slice into triangles like a pizza and serve.