Thursday, January 3, 2013

Prasopitta...or Leek Pie

Greece is home to one of the world’s great fast foods: Small Pies…. or in Greek, Pittas. Perhaps the best known are Cheese pies (Tyropitta) and Spinach pies (Spanakopitta). Widely available in convenient ‘hand size’ pieces, they both make a wonderful snack lunch… or a basis for a fuller meal. But you can find all sorts of variations and fillings too. One of my own favourites when I can find it is a Prasopitta, or Leek Pie. Here’s my own take on this particular pie…. with embellishments.

2 Medium size Leeks
1 Clove Garlic
1 large egg
120/150g Graviera Cheese. Actually, any good hard cheese will probably do.
200/220g filo pastry (5/6 sheets)
Olive oil
100/120g bacon
Black Pepper
1/2 tbl spoon of double cream

Clean and chop the Leeks and fry gently to tenderise for about 10/15 minutes in a little Olive Oil. Chop the Garlic and add to the pan after about 5 minutes. Stir from time to time and don’t allow the leeks to burn.

Meanwhile, grate the Cheese into a bowl, add the Egg and stir together. Chop the Bacon, I use 3 or 4 thin slices chopped to about 1cm square. Add to the cheese mixture and give it four or five twists of fresh ground Black Pepper.

Once the leeks have tenderised, add them to the mix and stir everything together. Finally, stir on a couple of generous tablespoons of double cream. Check the seasoning. With the cheese and bacon present, you should not need to add any salt…. Adjust to your taste though.

Build your pie on a well greased baking tray. Lay down one sheet of Filo Pastry, brush it with Olive Oil (melted butter will do just as well, just not so healthy!) and then lay a second sheet of pastry over the first. Repeat for a third sheet. It’s important to keep the sheets of pastry well oiled and not to let them dry out at this stage.

Then spread the pie filling onto the centre of the base and work it into the shape you want. Try to achieve an even thickness of 1 to 1 and a half cm. This will leave a wide flap of layered pastry exposed all around the filling.

Now wrap the filling, just like a parcel. I usually fold in the ends and then wrap the sides over the top. Once the pie is closed I use any remaining sheets of pastry to wrap the pie in the opposite direction, again keeping the pastry well oiled and tucking the flaps of pastry underneath. Be carful when working with the pastry; the wafer thing filo sheets can tear and break quite easily. Don’t worry too much if they won’t lie flat. The folds and creases in the pastry add character and texture!

Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180C for about 1 hour. The finished pie should be a rich golden brown in colour with the top layer of pastry starting to flake away.

Despite the temptation, allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before eating.  This pie should make 4 to 6 servings. It is great hot, warm or, if it lasts that long it’s good to eat cold too. 

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