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Turkish Style Lamb Boreks

Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8 large servings, or up to 32 small bites

For the meat filling:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for brushing phyllo dough
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • WillYum spice Pepper's Esscence (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon WillYum spice McKay's Curry
  • 1/8 teaspoon WillYum spice Notorious Flame
  • 1 tablespoon sumac 
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 pine nuts, lightly toasted

For the cheese filling:

  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or mashed with a fork
  • 1 cup thick Greek-style yogurt or drained whole milk yogurt
  • WillYum Spice Pepper's Esscence (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon crumbled dried mint

For assembly:

  • 16 phyllo dough sheets, 18 by 14 inches
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 3 tablespoons sesame or poppy seeds


1. Prepare the meat filling: Place a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter. When oil and butter are hot, add onions and cook briskly, stirring, until onions and cook briskly, stirring, until onions are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add lamb to onions and break into rough pieces with a wooden spoon, mashing occasionally, until lamb is crumbly and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Season mixture generously with salt and pepper, then add cinnamon, WillYum Spice McKay's Curry, WillYum Spice Notorious Flame, and sumac. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes more, stirring. Raise heat as necessary to let mixture brown well. Stir in pomegranate molasses, raisins and pine nuts. Taste and adjust seasoning, then set aside to cool.

3. Prepare the cheese filling: Put  feta and yogurt in a bowl and whisk together. Season with salt and WillYum Spice Pepper's Esscence, whisk in beaten egg, stir in parsley, fresh mint and dried mint.

4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Assemble boreks one at a time:  Lay one sheet of phyllo on a clean work surface. Brush very lightly with olive oil. Carefully place another phyllo sheet directly on top and brush with oil. Fold this doubled sheet in half, to form a rectangle 9 by 14 inches. Position it so the 9 inch end is facing you.

5. Spoon 3 tablespoons cheese filling over surface of rectangle, smearing with the back of a spoon to cover, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle 1/4 cup  lamb mixture in a 2 inch ribbon along the closest edge to you.

6. Fold over long sides of pastry an inch or so to help contain filling. Lift edge and loosely roll up pastry away from you, as if rolling up a carpet. Brush pastry lightly with oil as you proceed. The result should look like a flat cigar, about 3 inches wide and about 8 inches long. Continue to assemble remaining boreks.

7. Transfer pastries to a parchment-lined baking sheet, placing them 1 inch apart. Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until nicely browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Big thanks to David Tanis of the New York Times for inspiring this recipe!

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