Tuesday, November 22, 2011

RECIPE - Esfiha with Ground Meat Stuffing (Esfiha com Recheio de Carne Moída)

Last week, one of this blog's readers from Canada wrote this comment on the blog about the Brazilian/Arabian stuffed meat pastry called variously esfiha or esfirra:

I lived in Sao Paulo for a year in 2007 and one of the things that I miss most is the food. I love the esfiha and kibbeh and I also miss pizza con catupuiry! Do you know of a recipe for esfha?? I live in Canada and would love to try and recreate it for my fiance.

Here at Flavors of Brazil we do try to help our readers out (especially when they are Canadian compatriots), and so we're offering up this recipe for one of the most popular esfihas in Brazil, the one made with a ground-meat filling. The number of recipes for this simple snack is legion, but this one is fairly typical and very straightforward, so we've chosen to highlight it.

We hope that our correspondent follows through and makes esfihas for her fiance. And that all the other readers of the blog who've navigated to our original post about esfiha (all 2004 of you) give home-made esfiha a try. It's a bit of work, as is any pastry, but it's well worth the effort. You won't regret it.
RECIPE - Esfiha with Ground Meat Stuffing (Esfiha com Recheio de Carne Moída)
Makes approximately 25 esfiha

For the filling:
1 lb (500 gr) lean ground meat (not extra-lean)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, seeded by not peeled, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp hot or sweet paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro (optional)
1 Tbsp green onion, green parts only, finely chopped (optional)

For the dough:
2 Tbsp dry active yeast
1/2 Tbsp granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (125 ml) warm milk - approx 100F (37C)
1/2 whole egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp neutral vegetable oil
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (+ or -)
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten, for glazing
Prepare the filling:
In a large mixing bowl combine the ground meat and all the other ingredients, mixing them together well with your hands. Set aside for thirty minutes. Then place the mixture in the refrigerator, in a sieve set over a large bowl, for at least 2 hours, to let excess liquid drip out.

 Prepare the dough:
Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Combine the liquid in a large mixing bowl with the sugar, salt, beaten egg and vegetable oil. Mix well with wooden spoon.

Add the flour by handfuls, mixing in with the wooden spoon. When the dough becomes too stiff to mix with the spoon, work in the additional handfuls with your hands until you have a dough that is smooth and pulls away from the sizes of the bowl in a ball.

Generously flour a working surface, then knead the dough for 10 minutes, adding additional flour in small amounts as needed to prevent sticking. When finished, the dough should be smooth, pliant and springy.

Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for about one hour.

While the dough is rising, remove the filling from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

Make the esfihas:
Remove the dough from the bowl in which it has risen. Punch the dough down, then divide the dough into approximately 25 equally-sized balls. On a floured work surface roll out each ball into a circle of about 6 inches (15 cm) diameter. Put about 2-3 Tbsp of the meat filling in the center of the circle, then fold over the outside of the circle in thirds - the result will be a triangle-shaped package (see photo above). Seal the package well, wetting the edges with a finger dipped in water.

Place the filled esfihas on two non-stick cookie sheets, seam-side down. Let rest for 15 minutes while preheating the oven to 350F (180C).

Brush the tops of the esfihas with the beaten egg yolk, then place in the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Cool to room temperature before serving with hot sauce for those who desire it. If you don't want to serve them immediately, they can successfully be frozen, then thawed completely and brought to room temperature before serving.


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  2. There obviously isn’t enough liquid in this recipe for the dough? Did you make it up or did you just posted it without testing?.. what a waste!!! Garbage