Stuffed Pasta from Asia Minor

A dish made for celebrations, taken from Greece: The Cookbook
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Preparation time: 1 1/2 hrs
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups (500 g / 1 lb 2 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (250 g / 8 oz) butter
8¾ cups (2 litres / 3 1/2 pints) beef stock
1 cup (250 ml / 8 fl oz) sheep’s milk yogurt
1 garlic clove, crushed for the filling
1 lb 2 oz (500 g) ground (minced) beef
1 large onion, grated
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)
salt and pepper

Method

The manti of Asia Minor is a dish consisting of tiny pieces of pasta dough filled with meat or other fillings. The dough is cut and folded in various shapes—the smaller they are, the more skilled the cook—and is often made for celebrations.

To make the dough, sift together the flour and salt into a bowl, make a well in the center, and add the beaten eggs. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients, adding a little water at a time—no more than 1/2 cup (120 ml / 4 fl oz)—to make a smooth, firm dough that comes away from your fingers.

Shape it into a ball, cover with plastic wrap (cling film), and let rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Combine the ground meat, onion, and parsley, in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Using a pasta machine, roll out strips of dough very thinly. Alternatively, roll out by hand on a lightly floured work surface. Cut the strips into 1-inch (2.5-cm) squares.

Place a small piece of filling, about the size of a hazelnut, in the center of each square. Moisten the edges with water and fold the opposite corners of the squares over the filling and press to seal them.

Melt half the butter in a heavy skillet or frying pan and fry the manti, until golden. Bring the stock to a boil in a pan, add the manti, and cook for 15 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a small pan. Drain the manti, transfer to a deep platter, and pour the melted butter over them.

Whisk together the yogurt and garlic in a bowl. Serve the pasta immediately with the garlic yogurt.

Alternatively, you could place the manti in a greased ovenproof dish, pour the melted butter over the top, and bake in an oven preheated to 350°F (180°C / Gas Mark 4), until lightly browned. Pour the stock over them and cover with aluminum foil. Reduce the heat to 300°F (150°C / Gas Mark 2) and bake, adding more stock if necessary, until tender.

BUY GREECE: THE COOKBOOK

Greece: The Cookbook is the definitive work on the rich and fascinating cooking of modern Greece.

Greece: The Cookbook is the first truly comprehensive bible of Greek food in English. Rapidly increasing in popularity, Greek food is simple to prepare, healthy and delicious, and, more than most other cuisines, bears all the hallmarks of the rich cultural history of the land and sea from which it is drawn. It is the original Mediterranean cuisine, where olive oil, bread, wine, figs, grapes and cheese have been staples since the beginnings of Western civilization. With hundreds of simple recipes by Vefa Alexiadou, the authoritative grand dame of Greek cookery, the book also includes information on regional specialities, local ingredients and the religious and historical significance of the dishes, and is illustrated with 230 colour photographs. Greece: The Cookbook is the definitive work on the rich and fascinating cooking of modern Greece.