Savory Turkish Turnovers (Pirincli Börek)

Flakey, crispy and backed with ground beef and saffron rice, these little turnovers are a must try recipe!

One of the many things that I love about börek is that there are so many ways to prepare them. Börek, essentially meaning pastry, is applied to a myriad of delicious turkish pastries, both savory and sweet.

This börek recipe uses yufka, similar to phyllo dough or puff pastry, and it’s packed with ground beef and saffron rice.

Making and tasting these delicious börek, I was immediately reminded of the stories I heard about my grandmothers making “fried pies.” This börek recipe is what I would call a savory fried pie. It’s absolutely delicious.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 8 oz ground beef
  • 6 oz white rice
  • 3.5 c flour
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil plus 3-4 c more for frying
  • 1 TBSP suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1-2 c water (for the dough)
  • 1.5 c water (for the rice)
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To make the dough: 

Place the flour in a bowl and make a little well in the middle. Add the yogurt and slowly add the water until the dough is shaggy but not sticky.

Turn the dough over on a floured workspace and knead it for 5-10 minutes until smooth.

Shape it into a ball, place in a bowl and cover with plastic warp.

Let the dough rest for 30-45 minutes.

To make the rice:

Rinse and drain the rice.

In a large stock pot add 2 TBSP of sunflower oil.

Once the oil is hot, add the rice and toast it for 2-3 minutes.

Add the saffron, salt and pepper and stir.

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Cover the rice with 1.5 cups of hot water.

Reduce heat to low, cover the rice with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes.

To make the ground beef:

In a small frying pan, sautee the ground beef until it is browned.

Add the olive oil and then the onions and stir.

Season with salt and pepper (to taste).

Once the rice is done cooking, combine it with the beef mixture and set aside.

To make the börek (turnovers):

Take golf ball size pieces of dough, roll them into a ball and set them on a flour sheet pan.

One by one, roll out each ball until it’s about 5-6 inches in diameter.

Place 1 TBSP of the beef and rice filling in the middle of the dough.

Fold over the dough to create a half circle.

Cut off any excess dough with a pizza cutter or knife.

Crimp the edges with your finger or a fork (similar to when you make a pie crust)

Fry in a large frying pan or a deep fryer until it is browned.

Serve and Enjoy while warm.

Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Su Böreği (Cheesy Flakey Pastry)

Flaky and crispy on the outside. Melted cheesy and herb goodness on the inside. Imagine a really good croissant, but crispier, flakier and cheesy. 

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The first time I heard a description of Su Böreği, I expected it to be soggy and not so great. Literally, Su Böreği means “water börek.” Börek is a delicious pastry that comes in a myriad of varieties but it is always normally made with yufka, which is similar in texture and taste to phyllo dough. So, this sounded like a watery

pastry, in my mind. Although I’ve seen it at one of my favorite local bakeries, I’ll admit, I was still apprehensive about ever trying it. That is until, my cooking course.

In the course, we prepared a Su Böreği that shocked my eyes and tastebuds. I guess there’s more than one way to make Su Böreği because this one was light, flaky, crispy and filled with gooey cheese and parsley on the inside. When it’s warm, you pull a square and the melty cheese stretches and it’s absolutely delicious.

So, perhaps this is not the traditional way of making Su Böreği, I’m actually not sure at all. But one thing is for sure, this recipe is absolutely delicious.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 package of normal yufka (substitute phyllo dough or puff pastry)
  • 8 pieces of baklava yufka (substitute phyllo dough or puff pastry)
  • 1 lb. Antep peynir (substitute: mozzarella cheese)
  • 1 bunch of parsley (minced)
  • 12 TBSP oil
  • 7 TBSP water
  • 1 TBSP salt

Preparation:

Grate the Antep peynir (or mozerella cheese if using) and place in a bowl.

Mince the parsley and then add to the bowl with the cheese. Season with salt and stir.

Grease 2 large circular 15 inch pans with 1 TBSP of oil each. NOTE: One will be reserved for later when it’s time to flip the dish during the cooking process.

Layer 4 sheets of the baklava yufka in the bottom of the pan.

Drizzle with 1 TBSP of oil.

Take out the yufka and tear it into large pieces. Layer 1/3 of the torn yukfka in the pan and drizzle with 2 TBSP of water.

Layer another 1/3 of the torn yufka on top and drizzle with 2 TBSP of oil.

Then pour the cheese and parsley mixture on top and drizzle with 2 TBSP of oil.

Then add the remaining torn yufka on top, being sure to tuck it into the sides. Drizzle with 2 TBSP of water and 3 TBSP of oil.

Then take 3 more pieces of the baklava yufka and layer it on top. Sprinkle it with 1 TBSP of water and then add the final sheet of baklava yufka.

Press down and trim the edges with a sharp knife. Place the trimmed pieces underneath the top layer and drizzle with 2 TBSP of oil and 1 TBSP of water.

Then press the edges down again to ensure that they’re tucked in.

Using a sharp knife, cut the dish into 1 inch X 1 inch pieces. (Note: wet the knife by dipping it into a shallow bowl of water in between each cut)

Sprinkle with 1 more TBSP of water and then place the dish on an open flame. Cook until it is crispy and brown.

Remove the dish from the heat, cover it with the other greased pan and carefully flip it so that the cooked side is facing up.

Place back on the open flame and cook the other side until brown.

Serve and enjoy immediately! It’s so good when it’s warm!

Afiyet Olsun!