Easter has come and gone and normally there is a tone of leftovers. Perfect for making kleftiko or exohiko, but for me Easter held a different sort of present this year: home-made pastrami! Dad had made some himself and of course he kept some for me. Pastrami is one of the most exotic cured meats with a long history and a very special pie to honour it, pastrami pie!
I remember stories from my childhood about pastrami being made with camel meat. I was in owe with the whole process, I had no clue one could eat camel either. In Athens, you can find all sorts of pastrami, mainly made out of beef at Karamanlidika, on Evripidou street, a road behind Varvakeios food market, our very own Borough market.
The art of making pastrami came with Cappadokian Greeks, Karamanlides moving to Greece during the 1922 population exchange. Pastrami is popular throughout Turkey, with far Eastern routes in Anatolia. The Byzantine apoktin is a predecessor, the air-dried meat with the flavourings improved and mastered over centuries to capture all the heat and spice of the orient.
Curing the meat is an art in itself and the spices both preserve and flavour it. The meat is distinctly lean and spiced with all things oriental, paprika, pepper and fenugreek, tsimeni among others.
We make wonderful pies with pastrami, normally on festive occasions, but hey, there is always time for a daily treat. This pie reminds me a bit of pizza, it’s super quick and flavoursome.
Here is what you will need:
- 200gr pastrami
- 300gr mild yellow cheese, good when melted; I used kasseri
- 5 medium tomatoes
- 6 sheets of filo pastry (3 for the top, 3 for the bottom)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp of sesame for garnish
- 1 egg
- olive oil
What to do:
Chop the tomatoes in ½ inch rounds and get rid of seeds and liquids.
Grate your cheese and get rid of the outer spices’ layer of pasturma (tsimeni).
Brush your tray with olive oil and place the first sheet of filo or your puff pastry.
Place the second sheet and brush with olive oil, place the third without brushing.
You are ready for layering the pie: add a bit more than half of your grated cheese. Continue with the slices of pasturma and then add the rest of the cheese.
Add a layer of tomatoes and sprinkle with sugar.
Add the last 3 sheets of filo one by one and make sure you brush with a bit of olive oil.
Beat the egg with some water and brush the top filo.
Sprinkle some sesame for garnish.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 oC for 25-30 min.
Note: You can use 2 sheets of puff pastry if you prefer, baking time will take approx 45 minutes.
If you cannot find pastrami easily, fear not, I will soon be making some and I will share it with you in a future post!
with love from Athensby