I love anything wrapped in a pastry; well, almost anything. Who doesn't love a flaky, fluffy, buttery, melt in your mouth pastry enveloping a delicious sweet or savory filling? I don't know anyone, do you?
A school lesson
Years ago when I was homeschooling my son, an experience I would like to bury deep in the confines of my memory, I taught a class on empanadas from around the world. It was a hit with the kids, and the couple of moms who were my helpers. It's really cool that virtually every culture in the world has their own version of a stuffed pastry.
Meat Pastries in every culture
Turkish meat pastry ( Talas Kebabi) are a close cousin of the typical Latin American/Spanish empanada. However, these little gems use ½ the seasonings without sacrificing any of the flavor. One of the herbs used in this savory puff pastry recipe is fresh mint; courtesy of my garden. Talas Kebabi reflect a French influence, hence the use of puff pastry. Traditionally the dish calls for lamb, but I have used beef instead. Sometimes it is difficult to find lamb during non-holiday times. I really wish lamb was more popular in the US.
The first time I made these spicy Turkish meat pastries my son had a friend over to visit. To my great horror my son invited his friend to stay for dinner. Normally, I don't mind, but whenever I make something for the first time I prefer to have only my family as the guinea pigs. That's just me! Luckily they turned out great. The friend even helped by brushing the egg wash onto the puff pastry and had seconds and thirds. Success!! These puff pastry appetizers are definitely a keeper I think.
Step by step photos:
- Gather all your ingredients and have them measured, chopped and ready to go. Remove the puff pastry from the freeze about 4 hours in advance, wrap with plastic and place in the refrigerator to thaw.
- Heat a large skillet on medium, add the olive oil and beef. Stir fry the beef until lightly brown on all sides. Add the onion and garlic them stir to combine.
- Add the spices, mint, tomato paste and water. Stir to combine all well. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 25 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- The mixture should be a bit thick and if not allow to reduce uncovered. Once thick, remove the meat mixture from the pan and spread out on in large glass baking dish or tray and allow to cool. You don't want to put hot filling on the puff pastry as it will melt it.
- Roll out two sheets of the thawed pastry on a lightly floured surface into 12 inch squares and cut into 9 pieces of 4x4 inch squares. Place a small amount of the cooled filling in the center. Brush the edges of the pastry around the filling with the egg wash.
- Place the top piece of pastry over the filling and seal with the tines of a fork.
- Brush the tops with the egg wash.
- Bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Frequently asked questions
Once they have completely cooled you can store this in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Place them in an airtight container or zip top bags.
Reheat in the oven at 250°F for 10 minutes until warm in the center. I like to put them in my Cosori Air Fryer for 5 minutes at 250°F.
Yes, you can freeze these for up to two months in an airtight container after they are completely cooled. Reheat in the oven at 250°F for 10-12 minutes or 10 minutes in an air fryer at 250°F until warm in the center.
Want to try more dishes from the Mediterranean?
My Easy Chicken Shawarma is a great main. If you love roasted lamb, you'll love my Turkish-Style Rack of Lamb that's roasted on a pan and served with delicious herbed couscous and yogurt sauce. If you're looking for a meatless option, I recommend my Turkish Chickpea Burgers if it's sides you're craving then a light and delicious Orange and Onion Salad makes the perfect "un-salad." Before dinner, snack on Ezme, Turkish pepper and tomato relish.
Spicy Turkish Meat Pastries
Here is a Turkish favorite recipe. Talas Kebabi is a spicy meat filled puff pastry and so easy to make. You'll love the exotic flavors in this!
In a skillet over medium heat add the olive oil and stir fry the beef until lightly brown.
- Add the onions and garlic and stir.
- Add the spices and mint and the tomato paste and water and blend together well.
Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 25 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
To assemble, roll out each puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface into 12 inch squares.
Cut into 9 equal 4x4 squares.
Place a small amount of filling in the center of a square. Brush the edges around the filling with the egg wash. Top with another square and seal with the tines of a fork.
Brush the tops with egg wash and bake for about 25 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper until golden brown.
- Serve warm.
Place the frozen puff pastry in the refrigerator for 4 hours to thaw wrapped in plastic.
Originally published August 2015 and updated January 2022.