A meat pie one should try

By Habeeb Salloum

These hand pies are excellent and easy to enjoy. In Algeria they are often sold as fast food.  Made with different types of dough and fillings they are tasty and addictive according to those who love fine food. This is my version using crepes for the wraps.

The spice ras el hanout is a North African spice mixture available in Middle Eastern grocery stores and now sold in a number of the larger supermarkets.  It can be replaced with allspice.

Try these wrapped packages of flavour and spices!  They are delicious!

Algerian Meat Pies – M’hadjeb

Makes 12 to 16 pies

1 cup white flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 3/4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-pound ground beef or lamb
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ras el hanout
2 tablespoons tomato paste, dissolved
in 1/2 cup warm water

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt.  Add the eggs and half the milk. Whisk together until smooth.  Add the remaining milk and the butter and whisk until well blended.  Set aside for 1 hour. 

While the batter is sitting, in a frying pan, heat oil over medium then fry onion for 5 minutes, then stir in meat. Sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes then stir in remaining ingredients.  Cook over medium heat for a further 10 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

While the meat mixture is cooling, prepare the crepes. Using a crepe pan with a 6-inch base, put a spoonful of the crepe batter in the middle of the pan and quickly roll the batter around until the base of the pan is completely covered. Cook over medium-high heat until the sides of the crepe begin to brown. Flip it over and cook the second side until it just begins to brown. Remove from the pan and place it on wax paper or a tea towel.  Continue the same procedure to make 12 to 16 crepes, stacking them over each other.

Divide meat mixture into portions to match the number of crepes.

Preheat oven to 350° F.           

To make the m’hadjeb, place 1 crepe on a flat surface and place 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling in the middle. Fold the 4 sides over the filling to make a square shaped m’hadjeb. Repeat the process until all the crepes are finished.

Place on greased baking sheets, seam side down, then brush the top with a little extra olive oil or butter.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Serve hot.