Spicy Middle Eastern Meat Pies

Way back, in the early days of The Armenian Kitchen’s
existence, we’d posted a story about the
ARAM sandwich and how it got its name.
Many comments later, the facts were revealed. In a recent comment on this
story, a reader expressed a love for a dough-encased spicy meat pie that was
served at
Caravansary, the establishment where the ARAM sandwich was created.

Here’s the request:
“I grew up in the Bay Area and remember Caravansary
fondly. We often ate there when we went into the City to shop. They served a
wonderful spiced minced meat pie with pine nuts that was round and encased in
dough. It was fabulous! I would love to know how to make it!”
I promised the reader I’d post a recipe, but having never been to
the Caravansary myself, I am posting one that I hope will qualify and satisfy.

Spicy Meat Turnovers with Madzoon (Yogurt) and Lentil Soup
Spicy Middle Eastern Meat Pies
Yield: about 2 dozen

Spicy Middle Eastern Meat Pies

Dough Ingredients:
1 pkg. fast-acting dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, to brush on the meat pies
before baking
Directions for Dough:
1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in ¼ cup lukewarm water
(105-110°F). Allow mixture to proof for about 15 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Make
a well in the center and add the oil and proofed yeast mixture.
3. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment,
slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry, adding the 1 cup and 1 tablespoon
of water a little at a time.
4. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook, and
mix until the dough is soft, smooth. (NOTE: Dough should NOT stick to your
5. Transfer dough to a large bowl, lightly coating the
dough’s surface with olive oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a
warm spot until doubled, about 1 hour.
While dough rises, prepare the meat filling.

NOTE: If you’re not comfortable making dough from scratch,
feel free to use prepared pizza dough, available in most grocery stores.

Ingredients for Meat Filling:

3/4 lb. ground beef, lamb, or turkey 
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
¼ cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
Juice of one small lemon
salt and black pepper to taste
½ tsp. red Aleppo pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. ground allspice
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts 
Meat Filling Directions:

 Heat a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat; add oil. Add onions and cook until slightly softened. Add ground meat to the skillet and cook until it is crumbly and no longer pink. Drain any excess fat. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, seasonings and pine nuts; cook another 2 minutes. Taste; adjust seasonings, if necessary. Transfer meat mixture to a bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
 Assembling the
Meat Pies
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two heavy baking
sheets with parchment paper.

Cutting the dough into circles

2. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll half of the
dough out on a lightly floured work surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Gently lift
the dough from the edges to keep it from sticking to the work surface. Cut the
dough using a 4-inch round biscuit cutter. (I used a plastic lid to create circles since I do not have a 4″ biscuit cutter!) Continue this process until all of
the dough has been cut. Gather and knead together any scraps of dough. Wrap in
3. Fill each circle of dough by placing a tablespoon of uncooked
meat filling on one side of each. Filling should not touch the edges of the
circles. NOTE: The meat filling will cook during the baking process.
4. Fold the empty side of the dough over the meat-filled
side to create a half circle. Pinch the edge of the dough firmly to keep them
5. Place the meat pies on the parchment-lined baking
sheets and generously brush the surface with olive oil. Bake on the center rack
of the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve as an appetizer or as a meal with soup and/or salad.
NOTE: The meat pies can be
frozen after they are baked and cooled by placing them side-by-side in freezer
bags. If you stack them for freezing, be sure to have a layer of plastic wrap
in between each layer first. They can be heated from the frozen state.
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