Lebanese Meat Pies
For the stuffing
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 1 Pound ground beef
- 1/2 Teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 Teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
- Salt, to taste
- 1/2 Tablespoon dried mint
- 1 Tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon tahini (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon labneh or sour cream (optional)
For the dough
- 1 Teaspoon yeast
- 1/2 Teaspoon sugar
- 3/4 Cups water
- 2 Cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 Teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bowl
- Cooking spray, for the baking sheet
- 1 egg
This recipe is a family favorite. It can be a main meal, a snack, or a party appetizer depending on your preference and the size you make them.
There are many recipes out there for the dough and the stuffing, but this is my favorite. You may find the addition of tahini, pomegranate molasses, and labneh (strained Greek yogurt) a bit strange, but they do transform the taste of the meat and take it to the next level. Still, they are entirely optional.
You can knead the dough in the food processor or by hand. I like doing it by hand especially when I am having a bad day. It is a great way to vent anger or frustration. You can punch the dough, slam it against the table, get it all out without anyone getting hurt… It is even good for the dough.
The trick in keeping these pies from opening up during baking is to wet the edges of the dough with a little water before shaping them; that will seal the dough together and prevent it from opening once baked.
See all pie recipes.
For the stuffing
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Sauté the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef, allspice, cardamom, and cinnamon and cook until half done, about 5-7 minutes. Season with salt, to taste, and add the dried mint. If using, stir in the molasses, tahini, and labneh. Set aside.
For the dough
Proof the yeast by combining the yeast, sugar, and water in a bowl. Wait for the yeast to foam and bubble. (If it doesn’t bubble, discard and start over with new yeast.)
In another bowl, whisk together the flour and salt until combined. Add the oil and then rub it into the flour mix with your fingertips. Add the water-yeast mixture and knead the dough until it forms a smooth soft ball that doesn’t stick to your hands. Lift the dough and slam it into the table 7-10 times during kneading (that will give your baked goods that fluffy, cotton-like interior, a tip from a bakery owner I know).
Cover a bowl with a little olive oil, place the dough in it and cover the dough with a clean towel or plastic wrap. Leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size. (If you are short on time, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place the rack in the middle. Turn it off. Place a clean towel on the rack and place the bowl with the covered dough on the towel and leave it in the closed oven. It will double in size in 10-15 minutes.) Cut the dough into egg-sized balls and cover them with a clean towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange the rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Roll each dough ball into a 2-inch circle and place the 1 tablespoon of the stuffing in the center. Wet ½-inch of the dough circumference with water using a brush or your finger. Take 2 sides of the dough circle and seal them together by pinching them between your finger and thumb. Repeat until you get 4 corners.
Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and let rest for 10 minutes. (If you are making a large amount, make sure to cover the meat pies with a clean cloth while they are resting or the surface will dry and crack once you bake them.)
Pinch the sealed dough margins together again to make sure they are sealed tight. Crack the egg into a bowl and beat with 1 tablespoon water to form an egg wash. Brush the dough with the mixture.
Bake the meat pies until the bottoms are golden, about 10 minutes. (They will puff up as they bake so don’t place them too close to each other on the baking sheet.) Turn the oven to broil, and place them under the broiler until the tops are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
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