As a non-Greek/non-church-going/by-marriage-only kind of Greek person, it was an incredible honour to be asked to be a Godmother to Eva and Keri’s twins. But with great power comes great responsibility and in the Greek Orthodox church it is not as simple as buying a frock, rocking up to church and posing for photographs with a cute baby. Although, Panagiotis, godfather to 4, would have you believe that it is.
Following the traditional hour-long service, there is a big party for all of the guests. Bourekia is just one of the foods served at a typical Greek Orthodox christening feast, or in fact, any gathering at all!
If you follow Yiayia’s recommendation of using a mixture of pork and beef mince for the filling, it will really enhance the flavour of these cigar-shaped rolls. The combination of the minced meat wrapped in crispy filo pastry is simply wonderful.
Preparation Time 40 minutes
Cooking Time 45 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
1⁄2 onion, chopped
1 chili, chopped
250g pork mince meat or mix of pork and beef mince meat
1⁄4 tsp cumin
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp water
for the sauce
2 tbsp plain flour
2 heaped tbsp hard cheese such as cheddar/parmesan, grated
for the pastry rolls
1 tbsp margarine
100ml vegetable oil
4 fresh filo pastry sheets (but have a spare or two in case a sheet tears)
Pre heat the oven to 160 °C.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Sauté the onion and chili until they begin to brown.
Add the mince meat, cumin, parsley and season with salt and pepper. Stir well.
Stir in the water.
Cook until the water evaporates and the mix is dry. Remove from the heat and set to one side
Heat the plain flour in a saucepan until very slightly browned (it is best to heat the flour first as it helps prevent the sauce from tasting too floury). Add the butter, milk and cheese and stir over the heat until it thickens.
Add the cheese sauce to the mince meat and stir well. The mix should be thick and have a creamy, porridge-like consistency. (Keep this in mind but you may feel you need to add a tbsp or 2 of water). Place to one side.
Gently heat the margarine and the vegetable oil in a saucepan until the margarine has melted.
Oil a large baking tray with the melted margarine/oil. D Take 1 filo pastry sheet and cut into 3 parts widthways. D Take 1 filo piece and brush the top with margarine/oil.
Take a heaped tbsp of the mince mix and place 3cm from the bottom of the filo sheet and 2-3cm from each side. Pat down.
Fold the bottom of the filo pastry over the mince and then fold both sides inwards. The underside that has been folded over will be dry – brush it with some margarine/oil. Fold the top end in once. Continue folding over creating a roll, brushing with margarine/oil as you go along.
Make 12 rolls and place them in the baking tray, keeping them 3cm apart so they do not stick together when cooked.
You can keep the rolls in the fridge covered with cling film if you plan to cook them the following day.
Cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Best served hot straight from the oven. If however you are cooking earlier in the day, store in the larder/cool area, lightly covered with kitchen roll (not in the fridge as they will soften).
During preparation keep a damp tea towel over your filo pastry sheets so that they don’t dry out.
The special dipping sauce on page 21 goes really nicely with bourekia.
You can prepare the bourekia the previous day and keep in the fridge covered with cling film. When you come to cook, you may wish to brush some more margarine/oil over the top if you think they appear a bit dry.