While I was visiting my Grandmother she told me we were going to a church fundraiser. What could it be I thought spaghetti dinner, pancake breakfast, potluck, BBQ, cake sale? Boy was I wrong, it was Lebanese food, and I knew nothing about it. Everything smelled so good but looked so foreign. I did not know if I would be brave and try anything, and then it happened. My grandmother popped this triangle of soft bread and meat into my hands, and I took a bite. It turns out everything tasted wonderful, and because I cannot take all of you to the fundraiser with me I wanted to share my version of those wonderful Lebanese Meat Pies with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
1. Wash your hands.
2. For this recipe you will need measuring cups and spoons, a wooden spoon or heat proof spatula, a large mixing bowl, a knife and cutting board, a large sauté pan, the stove, the oven and a cookie sheet.
If you are not allowed to use a knife, the stove, or oven by yourself you can ask an adult for help.
ChefElla’s Lebanese Meat Pies (a.k.a. SFEEHAS or FATAYER) (about 10 – 12 Pies)
16 -20 oz. Ground Beef (80/20), Lamb, or Turkey
¾ Cup Onion, Yellow, Small Diced (About ½ of a large onion)
¼ Cup Walnuts, Pieces or Halves, Minced
-Measure out ¼ Cup of the Walnuts and then chop them into little pieces.
¼ Cup Flat Leaf Parsley, Minced
2 Tbl. Olive Oil
3 Tbl. Sour Cream
1 Tbl. Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Salt, Kosher or Sea
½ tsp. Black Pepper
1 ½ tsp. Cumin, Ground
1 tsp. Coriander, Ground
¼ tsp. Cinnamon, Ground
2 Rolls Pizza Dough
-I used refrigerated pizza dough from the store that rolled out into a rectangular shape. If you would like to purchase a premade dough ball and roll it out that would be fine, OR If you would like to make your own dough from scratch there are many great recipes on the internet. Just search for SFEEHAS or FATAYER dough recipes and one will come up.
Optional: 1CupFeta Cheese, Crumbled
3. Chop walnuts, onions, and parsley and save for later. Measure out the spices, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon into a small bowl.
4. Place your sauté pan on the stove and heat on medium. Add walnuts to the pan to toast them. The walnuts can easily burn so make sure you watch them while they cook and stir frequently. When the walnuts begin to brown and smell good remove them from the heat and put them in your bowl. Add the lemon juice, chopped parsley, and sour cream to the bowl, and mix well.
5. Return you pan to the stove and turn to medium high heat. Add the olive oil to the pan. When the oil is hot add the onions to the pan and mix well. Cook the onions for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally. If the onions begin to brown turn the heat down.
6. Add the ground meat to the sauté pan. Break up and stir the meat as it cooks. Add the spices to the meat and mix well. When the meat has been broken into little pieces and is no longer pink take the pan off of the heat and let the meat cool for 15-20 minutes.
7. Preheat your oven to 375F.
8. If you are using pre-made dough from the store and it is the rectangular kind, roll out the dough and flatten it with your hands or a rolling pin until it is even but not too thin. Take a small knife and a 5-6 inch bowl or plate, put the bowl or plate on the dough and cut around it to make your round dough sheets. Remove the excess dough from the rounds. If you purchased a pre-made dough ball or make your own dough, cut off a small amount of the dough. Put a small amount of flour on your counter and roll the dough into 6 inch rounds.
9. Mix the cooled meat in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. If you are using feta add it now.
10. Scoop about ¼ cup of the meat into the middle of your round dough skin. Bring two sides of the skin together so that you begin to make a triangle. Pinch the ends of the skin together to close the pie. Stop pinching at the center of the pie. Bring up the third side of the triangle, and pinch the remaining sides together, again stop pinching when you get to the middle of the pie. Your pie should have a triangle shape. Do not worry if they do not look perfect they will still taste great.
11. Spray your cookie sheet with pan spray and place your finished pie on the pan.
12. Make the remaining pies until all of the meat is gone and place them on the pan. Do not let the pies touch.
13. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes or until the dough is nice and golden in color.
14. Let the pies cool.
Serve your meat pies with a nice salad, grilled vegetables, a cold vegetable relish, or with some chips. These Mediterranean meat pies are great for lunch, dinner, or even a picnic. If you are an adventurous eater you can add other ingredients like, dried fruit, tomatoes, eggplant, or your favorite fruits or vegetables. You can even make a vegetarian version with chopped mushrooms and lentils if you would like.
Note: If you do not want to go through all of the work to make meat pies, the ground meat served over rice pilaf with vegetables makes a wonderful dinner.
ChefElla’s helpers can help by:
Measuring out ingredients
Adding ingredients to the bowl
Mixing the ingredients
Rolling or preparing the dough
Crimping the meat pies
Older helpers can help by:
Cooking the ingredients