When I first read this recipe for a hearty filo pie, I thought it all sounded delicious – except that it calls for hunks of stracchino (a cheese similar to mozzarella), which frankly sounds to me like a bizarre ingredient to add to a meat pie.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a staunch worshipper at The Altar of Cheese; I get through at least one block of feta per week, grilled cheese is an entirely valid dinner option and I admit that crackers are a ‘recommended but optional’ addition to a wheel of brie.
But adding cheese to a filling of slow braised, red wine based meat sauce? Really…?
I was just going to skip the cheese but I’m glad I wavered and stuck to the recipe, because it turned out to be a delightful surprise. Every now and then between mouthfuls of crunchy, flaky pastry, sweet roasted butternut pumpkin and tender melting beef, the cheese added a delightful mild creaminess to a superb balance of flavours.
I couldn’t source stracchino so I used mozzarella as the recommended substitute.
It may sound strange but it works – a comfort food antidote to a cold winter’s night.
braised beef & roasted pumpkin filo pie
adapted from april / may 2016 (issue 86) of donna hay magazine
1.5 kg beef rump, trimmed and cubed 1 onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 10 sprigs marjoram 2 whole dried chillies 2 tbsp tomato paste 1 cup red wine 400g can chopped tomatoes 1 ½ cups chicken stock 1 kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and chopped 300g stracchino (substitute mozzarella) 8 sheets filo pastry 50g melted butter
olive oil black pepper sea salt
Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F).
Heat a glug of oil in a large heavy-based saucepan. Season the beef well with salt and pepper, then cook in batches for 8 – 10 minutes or until golden brown. Don’t overcrowd the pan or the meat will begin to stew in its own juice and never brown. Remove from the pan as each batch is finished and set aside.
Add the onion, garlic, marjoram and chillies to the pan (add another glug of olive oil if required). Cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes until the onion has softened.
Add the tomato paste and red wine and cook for 30 seconds before returning the beef to the pan. Add the chopped tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook for 1.5 hours, until the beef is tender.
Remove the lid, increase the heat to medium and cook for a further 30 minutes, reducing the sauce.
Meanwhile, toss the butternut pumpkin pieces in a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Spread the pumpkin in an even layer over a large baking tray and roast for 20 – 30 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
Remove from the oven and gently stir through the meat once the sauce has finished cooking.
Divide the beef and pumpkin filling between two 5-cup-capacity baking dishes. Scatter the pieces of stracchino or mozzarella over the top.
Brush each of the filo sheets with butter and layer them to make two stacks of four sheets. Place a stack of filo sheets over each baking dish, scrunching into the corners of the dish so that you end up with a crumpled pastry surface.
Brush each pie with the remaining melted butter and bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp.