My brother-in-law John, is crazy about meat pies. It’s sort of a joke between Paul and I because every weekend, it seems, John is telling us a story about how he was hunting down more meat pies in far flung locations. I wish I could find a “Will travel for meat pies!” bumper sticker, because he needs one.
I’m pretty sure John doesn’t even realize that he is obsessed with meat pies, so I’m kind of letting the cat out of the bag here. But, the other day, after one of his, “So, I was on the south side and man, this meat pie I had was…” stories, I decided that I really should look up recipes to try out on our meat pie connoisseur.
Of course once I dove down the rabbit-hole (i.e. internet) looking for recipes, the meat pie that appealed most to me didn’t look much like what I had been looking for in the first place. I found a recipe for a phyllo-crusted ground beef pie with allspice and onions. Two things intrigued me about the recipe. First, you only have to brush every third or fourth sheet of phyllo with butter or oil, saving both time and calories. And second, just before putting it in the oven you pour a milk and egg mixture over the whole thing.
For years, I was intimidated by phyllo dough - all those paper thin sheets! But I’ve learned that using store-bought phyllo could not be easier. Easy enough to make this phyllo meat pie on a weeknight, no problem. Once I started the process, I changed a bunch of things, added two types of cheese and za’atar spice mix for more flavor oomph.
I still haven’t found the perfect recipe for the steak and ale pie of John’s dreams - feel free to send me yours - but my Paul and I really enjoyed this version. Now I’m thinking that we should host a meat pie contest at Paddy’s on the Square. Grand prize is a date with John (kidding, well, maybe...).
Phyllo Meat Pie
adapted from this recipe
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoons allspice
- 1 teaspoon za’atar
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, minced (optional)
- Salt and black pepper
- ⅔ cup grated mozzarella
- ⅔ cup ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- 16 sheets of phyllo
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350F.
Add onion to a large saute pan and cook over medium low heat until it starts to turn transparent, about 5 minutes.
Turn heat up to medium high and add ground beef, salt and pepper, za’atar, allspice, thyme and crushed red pepper (if using).
Cook until lightly browned and almost cooked through. Add garlic and cook 1 or 2 minutes more. Set meat mixture aside.
Melt butter and combine with olive oil in a small bowl.
Spray inside of baking dish with cooking spray and line with 3 to 4 sheets of phyllo dough, letting excess drape over the sides of the dish.
Brush top sheet of phyllo with butter-oil mixture.
Layer 3 to 4 more sheets on top and brush with butter-oil mixture. Repeat layering and brushing once more for a thicker crust.
Pour meat mixture into baking pan over the phyllo.
Dot with spoonfuls of ricotta and top with grated cheese, cilantro and parsley.
Repeat layering of phyllo sheets to form the top crust of the pie, brushing with butter-oil mixture every 3 to 4 sheets as necessary.
Fold overlap onto the top of the pie and sprinkle with salt.
With a sharp knife, cut through the top layer of the pie to form serving-sized squares. Do not cut all the way through the bottom sheets of phyllo.
In a separate bowl, beat egg and milk lightly and pour mixture evenly over pie.
Place pie in the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until it is bubbling and golden brown on top.