Delicious delicacy pastirma, dried cured beef with a coating of spices called cemen, consisting of cumin, fenugreek, garlic and hot chili flakes is also very much enjoyed in pastries, as part of a mezze spread in Turkey. Pacanga boregi, as we call in Turkish, showcases flavorful pastirma, kasar cheese (Turkish cheddar cheese) and in some versions like mine, diced peppers and tomatoes. It is one of our favorite pastries for a Turkish style weekend brunch or as a mezze spread.
This wind-dried beef, pastirma has been made in Anatolia for centuries. It’s also been enjoyed throughout Middle Eastern as well as Eastern European countries and has a special part in Lebanese and Armenian cuisine. Some of the finest pastirma is being produced in Kayseri region, in Middle Anatolia, Turkey; it almost has a silky texture and just melts in the mouth, very aromatic with the spicy cemen coating; I hope you can have a chance to enjoy pastirma in Kayseri. Here is more information about pastirma, with a delicious egg recipe.
Paçanga böreği is regarded as a “traditional Sephardic Jewish specialty of Istanbul, filled with pastirma, kasar and julienned green peppers that is fried in olive oil and eaten as a mezze, appetizer”. There are a few versions of pacanga boregi, pastry rolls with pastirma; I like to include some tomatoes and green bell pepper (or pointy pepper, sivri biber in Turkey) in the filling. These juicy vegetables complement the rich, spicy taste of pastirma. They are traditionally made with fresh, paper thin sheets of yufka pastry and it’s great if you can get them. I used filo pastry sheets for my pacanga borek, and they worked well and boreks disappeared very quickly! They are also fried traditionally and I chose to bake them; they turned out very well.
I hope you enjoy these delicious rolls, Afiyet Olsun,
- 6 sheets of filo pastry (app. 48cmx25cm, 19”x10” each) or equivalent of yufka sheets
- ½ green bell pepper or 1 pointy green pepper (sivri biber), finely diced
- 2 small tomatoes, finely diced
- 15 ml/1 tbsp. olive oil
- 8 slices of pastirma (Turkish dried cured beef), or a pastrami of your choice, roughly chopped
- 150 gr / 5 oz. shredded Turkish kasar (cheddar) cheese or mozzarella, for a milder taste
- Salt and ground black pepper for seasoning
- 1 egg, beaten to brush the pastries
- 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil to brush the pastries
- Bowl of water to seal the pastries
- Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F/ Gas Mark 4
- For best results, thaw the frozen filo pastry in the fridge overnight and bring it to the room temperature 1 hour before using. That enables the filo thaw completely. If it is sold fresh as in the UK, you only need to bring the filo sheets to the room temperature 30 minutes before using.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan and stir in the diced pepper and tomatoes. Stir and cook over medium heat for 3 -5 minutes, until the peppers start to soften. Season with salt and ground black pepper to your taste (You may use a little salt or omit, as the pastirma is quite salty too). Set aside to cool.
- Place the chopped pastirma or pastrami of your choice and the cheese in a wide bowl. Stir in the cooked tomatoes and peppers, combine well. Filling is ready.
- Cut the filo sheets into 11cmx25cm (4”x9”) rectangular stripes and stack on top of each other. Place a damp towel over them so that they don’t dry out.
- Lay two rectangular strips of filo sheets on top of one another.
- Place a generous tablespoon of the filling along the short end near you (take care not to overfill as the filling may ooze out while cooking). Fold over the pastry from each side to seal in the mixture and then roll up like a fat cigar.
- Seal the end of the pastry as well as any openings/ cracks with little water. Repeat this with the remaining filo sheets.
- Mix the egg with the olive oil in a small bowl. Brush the boreks, pastries with this mixture and place them on a greased tray.
- Bake the pastries in the preheated oven for about 25 - 30 minutes or until golden.
- Serve hot as a mezze spread, weekend brunch or a tasty snack.
Spring is in the air, trees are in full blossom, I love this time of the year. It’s the tulip season in Istanbul, and they are such a gorgeous sight to see. Here is a favorite tulip photo to share from my culinary & cultural trip to Istanbul last April; I hope it brightens your day!