I made two kinds of savory appetizers from the Middle East as part of Victoria Avilan‘s cookbook project (see my next post for the sweet versions). In Turkey, they are called sigara bourek. I made two savory (one of meat and one of cheese) versions and both were a hit with my tasters.
I did several tests with this recipe and found that a 350°F oven, three layers of cut filo per cigar, and a small amount of filling per cigar yields the best results. The cigars stay intact and the filling doesn’t burst through the center. By not going to the edge with the filling and folding in the edges there meant they looked like cigars without compromising filling integrity. I also found that buttering each filo layer individually was unnecessary. Brushing interior layer near the filling and the top of the cigar after rolling is sufficient.
2 lb. ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick butter, melted
1 lb box filo dough, thawed
Sauté the onion with the ground beef in olive oil. Add garlic and spices and cook until browned—about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until the moisture has completely evaporate. Let it cool down to room temperature. Stir lemon juice into meat mixture.
On a clean work surface roll out the thawed sheets of filo. Using a sharp knife, cut the filo in half to form a square and then diagonally to form triangles, leaving you with four equal-sized triangle shaped sets of dough. Take three triangles and cover the remaining filo with a damp towel. Lay out the triangles on your work surface and brush the top layer with melted butter.
Turkish Feta Cheese and Olive Rolls
4 ounces cream cheese
1 lb filo dough
Using three pieces of cut filo dough, place a tablespoon of the cheese mixture on the fat end of the triangle. Fold in both sides of the filo, enclosing the filling and brush with butter. Starting at the filled end, roll up pastry to resemble a cigar. Transfer, seam side down, to a lightly buttered baking sheet.
Make more rolls, leaving 1/2-inch of space between cigars on baking sheet. Brush the top with melted butter. Bake in 350 degree F oven until filo is golden, about 30 minutes.
*Note – I find feta to be a bit strong, so I cut it with whipped cream cheese. If you’re a fan of it straight up, increase feta to 8 ounces and drop the cream cheese.