I really like that every country on the Mediterranean has some type of pastry-and-filling dish in the burek family – and they’re all slightly different. Israeli bourekas were filled with potato, and shaped based on kosher laws, while Algerian boreks were more like spring rolls with spiced meat. And now I get to try Albania’s version – byrek!
I stopped by Hasi Bakery, a Balkan bakery here in Ottawa and scored both a ready-to-eat slice of feta and spinach byrek, as well as a whole freshly prepared meat byrek – ready for the oven! It was good timing to get in early, since they’re closed for the rest of the month.
Albanian byrek is made either as small pies or in a large pan that can be cut into pieces. It’s made of layers of phyllo pastry with a filling – cheese or meat are the classics. I first tried huge slice of feta and spinach byrek that was warm and crispy and filling and made plenty of crumbs in the car. Later, I heated up the oven for the meat byrek.
The meat byrek went in at 350F for an hour and cooked up great. I love that it’s ready-to-bake – I get all the satisfaction and lovely smell without having to wrangle with phyllo myself! There’s a nice spicing to the meat, reminds me a bit of tourtière.
I am so full.