Reminiscent of traditional tagines and Middle Eastern stews, Russell Brown’s Moroccan-themed pie uses crisp filo pastry to encase a spiced lamb filling with cumin, sumac and cinnamon, as well as the sweet apricots. Enjoy this recipe as part of our Tales of Summer series, inspired by blogger Kim from Love Cloth’s travels to Marrakesh…
6 filo pastry sheets
500g of lamb mince
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/4 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 1/4 tsp sumac
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp of tomato purée
500ml of lamb stock
100g of dried apricots, diced
2 tsp cornflour, to thicken
200g of spinach
freshly ground black pepper
50g of butter, melted
2 tbsp of water
1. Add a little olive oil to a large pan and fry the lamb mince in small batches until well-coloured. Drain the mince in a sieve set over a bowl to remove any excess moisture.
2. In the same pan, sweat off the onion and garlic until softened, then add the spices and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the tomato purée and continue to cook for a further minute.
3. Return the mince to the pan, add the lamb stock and some seasoning, then simmer gently for 1½ hours, topping up with water if it starts to dry out too much. Add in the apricots and cook for a further 20 minutes, adjusting the seasoning to taste
4. Mix the cornflour with two tablespoons of cold water and add gradually to the lamb mixture, stirring well until it has thickened – the mixture should be thick and fairly dry.
5. In a separate pan, add a little olive oil, the spinach and some seasoning. Stir-fry quickly over a medium-high heat, then drain and allow to cool. Once cool, squeeze out any excess moisture.
6. Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3.
7. To assemble the pie, take one sheet of filo pastry and brush with melted butter, keeping the remaining pastry covered with a damp tea towel to stop it drying out. Use the sheet to line a 24cm non-stick frying pan or pie tin, then repeat with two more sheets, laying one sheet in and then the next rotating the sheets by a third of a turn as you layer them up.
8. Add half the lamb mixture, then a layer of spinach, followed by the remaining lamb. Fold any excess pastry over the filling and cover the meat with the three remaining filo sheets, again brushing each with melted butter and rotating as you lay each new sheet on.
9. Use a pair of scissors to trim the pastry so that it is 1cm bigger than the pan and then tuck the edges in using a palette knife.
10. Transfer the pie to the preheated oven and bake for 20–30 minutes until the pastry is a rich golden brown on top. Serve the pie in slices, with a fresh salad, or Moroccan-inspired side if preferred.