Fennel and pork borek

Pork and fennel borek filling is prepped.

Don’t forget to add the fennel fronds to the filling.

Fennel and pork borek is redolent of Italian sausage, with the scent of fennel seed and a tiny hit of heat from chilli flakes. I gently cooked the fennel so it was mellow and sweet before browning the meat separately with the spices. Everything gets more muted once wrapped in pastry so don’t be shy with the seasoning.

If meat is not your thing, omit the pork and chilli flakes. Instead, sweat down an onion with the fennel. Once cooled, fold in a chopped apple, and a couple of tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan (the real Parmigiano-Reggiano stuff). The sweetness of the apple complements everything and the onion and cheese balance it out so it doesn’t veer into dessert territory. Or just make a grilled zucchinni and cheese borek instead.

Coil is basted and ready for the oven.

Coil is basted and ready for the oven.

To convey how truly crazy I am about bakng boreks, I prepped the filling and coiled the pastry at home but since my oven still doesn’t work (I know, I know it’s been months now…), I delivered it to a friend’s home, then baked it at their place. It’s not all bad – the borek was my gift to them anyway but most people normally arrive with a finished product instead of taking over a kitchen for an hour or so.

Eat this with a herb heavy salad: fresh mint, dill, chervil, crisped radish and apple. Maybe even some shavings of fresh fennel too to keep the theme going.

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I may be slightly borek crazy.

Fennel and pork borek

Feeds: Four extremely hungry people or six people as a light meal with salad
Start cooking: At least two hours before eating

Ingredients:

Borek:

  • 375 grams x filo pastry, fresh or thawed
  • 250 grams x pork mince
  • 2 x small fennel bulbs (or one large bulb): total weight circa 400 grams, diced. Reserve the fennel fronds.
  • 1 tablespoon x olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon x hot chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon x whole fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon x sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon x pepper

Borek basting mixture: Please note this will make enough to baste two boreks.

  • 1 x egg
  • 1/2 cup x plain Greek style yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Method:

  1. Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the diced fennel and gently cook for at least 10 minutes until just tender, stirring occassionally.
  2. Remove the fennel from the pan and place in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Using the same frying pan, increase the heat. Crumble in the pork mince and add the salt, pepper, chilli flakes and fennel seeds. Breaking up the meat with a spatula, stir fry the mixture for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Taste the mixture and add more seasoning if needed.
  4. Add the pork mince to the cooked fennel. Top with the reserved fennel fronds and mix until evenly combined. Cool for at least 15 minutes before making the borek. You can make the filling the day before.
  5. Make the borek basting mixture by lightly whisking the egg with the yoghurt and olive oil in a bowl.
  6. Prepare a baking tray or pizza tray with baking paper. Preheat your oven to 200 C/ 400 F.
  7. Now let’s roll the borek! Take two sheets of filo pastry and lay down on your kitchen bench. Baste liberally with the yoghurt-egg mixture and then gently lay another filo sheet on top.
  8. Place an inch wide line of filling along the long edge of the filo pastry. Roll the pastry over like a sushi roll, keeping it even and relatively tight.
  9. Coil the resulting roll and place in the centre of your baking tray. This will form the centre of the borek.
  10. Continue with remaining ingredients until the filling is all used up, completing the rest of the borek coil.
  11. Baste the top of the entire borek with the yoghurt-egg mixture and bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting wedges like a pizza.
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