Meat Burek

In Olympics news yesterday, Yuzuru Hanyu won gold in the men’s figure skating competition winning Japan’s first men’s figure skating gold medal.  In the women’s skeleton event Noelle Pikus-Pace of the U.S. won silver, ending an incredibly emotional career on a high note.  The U.S. men’s curling team beat Germany 8-5, but was defeated by Russia who won by one point.

Today is day seven of our Winter Games feature, and that brings us to the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics.  These were the first Winter Olympics held in a Communist state.  At these Olympics, British figure skating pair Torvill and Dean earned perfect scores for artistic expression in the free dance portion of the ice dancing competition.  This has not been accomplished since.  U.S. skier Bill Johnson became the first American man to win a downhill skiing event when he won gold in the downhill competition, and he was also the first skier from outside the Alps to win an Olympic downhill event.

sarajevo burek

Depending on where you get it, burek goes by many variations of the name.  In Sarajevo, it’s called burek and it’s pretty popular.  Burek is essentially a flaky pastry (such as filo or yufka dough) surrounding a meat, cheese, or vegetable filling (or some combination of the three).  These are tasty as a meal or a snack, and incredibly easy to make.  To make these, you can use packaged filo dough or make your own dough.  Either method is equally time-consuming, but to make the dough yourself you will need a very large work space (think kitchen table sized) so you can stretch the dough out as thin as you need to.

sarajevo burek open

Meat Burek


for the dough (or use store-bought filo dough):

  • 3 C. instant blending flour (such as Wondra)
  • 1 1/3 C. warm water
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • pinch of salt

for the filling:

  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • chili powder, to taste (optional)


To make the dough, combine the flour, salt, water, oil and vinegar in a mixing bowl, using your hands to knead the ingredients together.

Knead for a few minutes until the dough begins to form, adding a small amount of flour if necessary.

When the dough has formed, remove it from the bowl and slap it against the counter about 25-30 times to break down the gluten and make the dough more elastic.

Return the dough to the bowl and continue to knead it normally for about 10 minutes, until you see little air bubbles starting to form or until it stops sticking to the dish.

Sprinkle flour over the dough, cover with a clean towel, and let it sit for about an hour.

Put a clean table cloth (I suggest either a vinyl one that can be easily wiped down/ washed/ parted with or a cheap plastic disposable one) onto your table and sprinkle flour over it.

When the dough is ready, flip it out of the bowl onto your hands and use the back of your hands to gently stretch the dough slightly. Be very careful not to snag the dough on any jewelry (I suggest removing it first) or your nails- it will tear very easily.

Place the dough onto the table and coat it with a generous layer of oil, spreading the oil with your fingertips.   Let the oil absorb for 5-10 minutes.

Use your fingertips to gently stretch the dough toward you, lifting one side of the dough with your palms.  Do this to stretch the dough until you can nearly see through it.  Continue around the table until all of the dough has been evenly stretched this thin.  If your table isn’t big enough, see if you can get the dough to drape over the edges.

*If you are using store-bought dough, you can skip to here.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare the meat filling by mixing together the meat, onion, and spices.

If you have made your own dough, you will distribute the meat mixture evenly around the edge of the dough, around the table.  Leave a gap a few inches wide without any meat mixture on it.  Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the dough from the center to the edge where you have left a gap.  Eventually you will have one very long thin roll that circles the edge of the table.  If you are using store-bought filo you will make individual size portions.  Start by spreading the meat mixture evenly down the long end of 10 sheets of filo dough.

If you are using the homemade dough, work your way around the table gently rolling the edges in toward the center (like you are rolling a giant circular jelly roll).  As you go, you will need to continue cutting the dough until you eventually have two long rolls.  If you are using filo dough, roll each sheet up starting from the long edge where you put the meat mixture.

Spread oil on a baking sheet.

If you are using homemade dough, cut the long piece evenly into 8 pieces and coil them up like snakes.  Coil them up in the same fashion if you are using filo dough.  Place the coils on the prepared baking sheet and brush them with oil.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until the outside is golden brown and the meat mixture is cooked.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: adapted from  The Domesticated Feminist


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