“This is one of the best dishes I have had for a long time”
Saucy Dressings’ chief taster
This is a sort of lamb version of the Cretan carnivale pork pie – I’ve fiddled about with it so it’s not strictly speaking Greek as such, but it incorporates filo pastry and Greek yoghurt so I classify it as Greek.
This is a very useful pie as you can make it ahead and then warm it gently and slowly before serving.
There is plenty of pastry, so you should have enough left over once you’ve sorted out the basic pie to divide into the number of your guests and then scrunch each up into a sort of crumpled handkerchief shape and put on top of the pie – it will make it look amazing and you can give one to each of your guests instead of any additional carbohydrates.
This is especially good with baby courgettes and feta (carrying on the Greek theme).
It uses lamb neck fillet which is quite surprisingly good if cooked long and slow. Because it’s not generally much rated it’s very good value. So although this looks like a luxury dish it’s really not expensive. You do, however, need to allow time for the slow cooking – the whole thing takes about half a day to make although most of the time you can go off and do something else. You can also make this pie with leftover lamb.
You will need a 20cm/8” springform, loose bottom cake tin – Lakeland does an excellent one. If you use an ordinary tin the whole thing will collapse – it won’t look up to much but it will still taste great, and you can cover up a whole host of sins by using the scrunched handkerchief technique described above.
Recipe for filo lamb pie
- 500g/1 lb frozen chopped spinach – thawed and drained
- 700g/1½ lbs lamb neck fillets, bought off the bone. Ask your butcher to remove the gristle and chop into dice.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 100g/4 oz/two fifths of a brick of butter
- 3 fat cloves of garlic, crushed with 1 tsp of smoked salt
- 2 tsp cumin seeds, ground in a pestle and mortar. Ideally you’ll have dry fried them first
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 medium red onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 100g/4 oz/⅔ cup raisins soaked to cover in rum or Earl Grey tea
- 1 generous tbsp marmalade – Improper Marmalade‘s blood orange and black pepper might go rather well and it would be quite fun to experiment with some of the other flavours…blood orange and espresso maybe?
- 2 x 270g/1 lb 4 oz filo pastry
- Indonesian long pepper – about ten grinds
- 500g/1 lb Greek yoghurt
- Preheat the oven to 180°C – use the aga baking oven if you have an aga (you may want to do this about ten minutes before you stop cooking the lamb.
- Heat the olive oil and a walnut of butter in a large lidded casserole
- Add the garlic, cinnamon and cumin and stir around for about a minute
- Add the meat and sear over a high heat (Why? Go here to find out)
- Stir in the onion and raisins (including the soaking rum or tea)
- Cover the casserole, turn the heat down and simmer for a couple of hours (at least one). Use the simmering oven if you have an aga, or you could use a slow cooker if you have one of those. If you are using leftover cooked lamb you don’t need to do this.
- Line the tin with a sheet of filo, not trimming off the excess, and brush with melted butter
- Do the same again with the second sheet being laid in the opposite direction to the first so that the whole rim of the tin is covered in overhanging pastry
- Take the lamb off the heat and stir in the pepper, marmalade and spinach and allow to cool – keep going for another two layers, laying each sheet at a slightly different angle to the one below
- Grease the loose-bottomed cake tin with a bit more butter, and melt the rest of the butter in a small saucepan.
- Pour in the lamb mixture.
- Bring together the overhanging pieces of filo to cover the pie, brushing on melted butter between leaves of pastry, and then make your butter-brushed scrunched up handkerchief shapes and put on the top.
- Bake for about half an hour, then remove the springform surrounding side of the cake tin and return to the oven for another half hour
- Serve with the yoghurt, which you have, of course decanted into a presentable bowl. Hang onto the tub and lid however, as you may not use all of it.
This post is dedicated to Gary Butler