How to make meat-filled pies from Lebanon
I love meat pies. Then again I love anything with dough. A few years ago my aunt made these arayes when she invited us for dinner and I was absolutely in love. I had never had them before and was so amused by the concept.
They’re filling and easy to bake, making them perfect as an appetiser or even as a main with a good side salad. And the best part is that they’re so versatile: my aunt would make some spicy while others she would keep mild.
I used to love taking some home to reheat as a midnight snack. Each time I make them for my family now, the aroma brings back plenty of wonderful memories that I hope will stay with my daughters in future as well.
Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour
- 680g (1½ lbs) ground beef (80% lean/20% fat)
- 4 large tomatoes
- 2 onions
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 425g (15oz) can of tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 175ml (¾ cup) olive oil
- 15 pitta breads
Preparing the filling
- Chop the onions into small pieces. Cut the tomatoes in half and mince the garlic. Chop as much of the jalapeno as you like, depending on your taste.
- In a food processor, pulse the onions and garlic till they are finely minced but not watery (they will become bitter if you over-grind them).
- Add the tomatoes and pepper. Mix again.
- Add the meat. Pulse a few times.
- Add the tomato sauce, half the molasses, and a ¼ cup (60ml) of olive oil. Mix again.
- Take the mixture out of the food processor and put it into a colander, over a bowl, to strain the excess liquid.
- Leave it for about 10 minutes. Do not allow it to dry out: remove it once it is barely dripping any liquid.
- Now add to the mixture another 2 tbsp of olive oil and the rest of the molasses. Season with salt and pepper (I use 1 tbsp salt and ½ tbsp pepper).
Filling the pitta
- Prepare the pitta bread by slicing it in half across and spreading ½ tbsp of olive oil on the inside.
- Take ¼ cup of the meat mixture and flatten into the middle of the bread. Coat it with more olive oil and set aside.
- Bake at 230ºC/450ºF for 12-18 minutes, flipping halfway through so it is crisp on both sides.
- Serve with yoghurt.