Loosely Greek in inspiration but with a personality all of its own, this pie looks impressive when you bring it to the table. Minutes later, of course, it’ll look like a dog’s dinner because it’s so good everyone will tear into it like ravening beasts.
The lamb filling is the same as you’d use in a moussaka, but it’s encased in a spiral of shatteringly crisp filo pastry. Vegetarians might prefer a classic spanokopita filling or some of the Caerphilly and leek used in this post.
You can use melted butter to brush the pastry if you prefer, but I think you get a crisper result with olive oil. You’ll need a round oven-proof pan/skillet, preferably cast iron, about 26-28 cm in diameter.
Lamb Filo Spiral
500g lamb mince
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tspn dried oregano
1 1/2 tspn dried mint
2 bay leaves
Approx 7cm piece of cinnamon stick
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp plain flour
1 glass red wine (or white if that’s what you have)
1 tin of tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper
120g feta cheese
6 sheets of filo pastry
Olive oil, for brushing
Sesame seeds, a mix of white and black if possible
Put a deep frying pan on a medium heat and add the lamb mince, chopped onions and garlic, cinnamon stick and herbs. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring to break up the mince. Scrape a hole in the mix, blob in the tomato puree and cook it off for a minute before stirring through.
Stir in the flour, cook for a minute or two, then mix in the wine, followed by the tomatoes. Season with a little salt and pepper and cook on a low to medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring often so it doesn’t catch. The mixture should be very thick by the end with most of the liquid driven off. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Allow to cool, then fish out the bay leaves and cinnamon stick and stir in the feta cheese, crumbled into small chunks. Chill thoroughly, for a couple of hours or overnight.
Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Dampen a tea towel and use it to keep the spare filo sheets covered while you work. Brush your work surface liberally with olive oil, and remove one sheet of pastry.
Place on the oiled work surface, long side towards you. Brush the top with more oil, then add a second sheet. Oil that one too. Don’t be stingy with it.
Now put a third of the lamb mixture in a line just above the bottom edge and roll the pastry up to enclose the filling, continuing to roll up to the top edge until you have a neat sausage. Gently form it into a coil and place it in the centre of the pan.
Repeat twice more, coiling each filo sausage around the previous one and continuing outwards in a spiral. Brush the top with more oil and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
Place in the middle of the oven and cook for 50-60 minutes until crisp and brown. Check after 40 minutes and carefully pour off any lamb fat that’s collected at the bottom of the pan.
Once done, rest for 10 minutes and then serve cut into wedges, perhaps with a spinach salad or bitter leaves. If you’d like to bulk it out, a warm new potato salad dressed with lemon, olive oil and dill is a pleasing contrast.