My family traditionally makes a Meat Pie (Kreatopita) in a rectangular or round baking tray (tapsi) but in Greece many will also have a Bougatsa with kima (meat) from their neighborhood Bougatsa shop. As I related in my previous post, Bougatsa is phyllo pie that can contain a sweet custard, savory cheese or meat filling (I am sure there are other fillings).
Bougatsa is more than just the popular sweet custard variety and the most authentic ones are made with homemade phyllo pastry and Bougatsa denotes how the phyllo is wrapped around the filling. After the dough is stretched by hand to cover an entire counter top (the dough even hangs down almost to the ground), the filling is placed in the center then the exposed corners are folded towards the center to cover the filling like an envelope. Another ball of dough is then stretched out and the first packet of dough and filling is enveloped by the second sheet of phyllo.
So, four balls of dough are rolled out then stretched by hand until one can see-through the dough (now you have phyllo) and through folding of the dough, multiple layers of phyllo create this Mille Feuilles effect. Flaky, buttery, crunchy and soft at the same time…there’s no replacing homemade phyllo!
Bougatsa With Kima (Meat) / μπουγάτσα με κιμά
(makes two Bougatsas)
1/4 cup olive oil
6 medium onions, peeled & diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, grated
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 lb. lean ground pork
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
2 Tbsp. of tomato paste dilluted in 2 cups hot water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. ground allspice
2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
pinch of Boukovo (chilli flakes) to taste
1/2 cup trahana (frumenty)*
4 large eggs
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sunflower oil
2 cups room temp. water
approx. 1 cup melted butter mixed in with olive oil for brushing
- To make the meat filling, add the olive oil, garlic, onions, grated, diced red pepper, carrot over medium heat, add some salt and pepper and allow to sweat for 7-10 minutes or until translucent. Add the ground pork and beef and allspice mix in and brown. Now add the diluted tomato paste, salt and pepper and bring up to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Season again with salt and pepper and simmer until most of the liquid has cooked down. Take off the heat, stir in the trahana and allow to cool. Once cooled, add the eggs and mix well, reserve.
- To make the dough, add the flour and salt in a bowl and mix with a fork or place in a food processor and pulse. Add your water and oil into another bowl (or large measuring cup) and pour into the running food processor or bowl. Add more flour if too wet or until the dough no longer sticks to walls of the food processor or add flour and knead on your work surface. The dough should be smooth, soft and not tacky.
- Now divide into four equal pieces and roll into balls. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface, place the balls on top and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 1 hour. After an hour, roll each ball into about the diameter of a pita bread with a rolling pin then place on a baking tray brushed with oil. Brush the flat of dough with oil and place the second one on top. You should have two sets of two-stacks. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for another hour.
- To open your phyllo, you will need a long rectangular table or large work surface (ensure either is clean). Drizzle the work surface with butter/oil and place one stack on the work area, use a rolling pin to seal the perimeter (two flats become one) of the dough and then hold on to the edge of the phyllo and begin gently pulling out the dough outwards, trying your best to open the dough in a large rectangle. Your challenge is to open/stretch phyllo that is 1.5 X 2 meters. Trim off any of the thick edges.
- Drizzle butter/oil all over the surface of the phyllo and carefully fold over the phyllo to make it half the size then use a knife to cut it into two equal pieces. Drizzle the surface with oil again and place half of the custard filling diagonally in the middle of one half of the dough. Now pull up each corner of dough towards the center (like an envelope) to seal the filling.
- Now carefully lift the packet and place the fold-side downward onto the remaining phyllo square. Place on a greased baking sheet and brush the top with butter/oil. Repeat with the remaining two-stack of dough and form your second Bougatsa. Brush the top with butter/oil and place in a pre-heated 350F oven for 45-60 minutes (middle rack) or until golden.
*You can find trahana at Greek & Turkish grocers. If not available, you may use bulghur wheat or couscous.
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