Zagori

Kreatopita from Zagori (meat pie)

Traditional meat pie with lamb and feta cheese.
Ηπειρώτικο Πρωινό-Kreatopita from Zagori (meat pie)
Before cooking...

In the old times, when the traditional Epirotic cuisine first took shape, meat was food for special occasions. In parts of Zagori, the traditional meat pie doubled as vasilopita on New Year’s Day, hiding the celebratory lucky charm in one of its pieces. In some places, the festive kreatopita was adorned with more than one good-luck charm; a piece of dogwood for well-being; a bit of vine for a good harvest; and a ring for a happy marriage!

Kreatopita from Zagori (meat pie)

Ingredients

In mountainous regions like Zagori, sheep meat was the only kind they had in abundance. As a result, many traditional recipes made with lamb or mutton have been developed over time to enhance the gastronomic properties of these particular meats. Nevertheless, if you prefer another type of meat, you can use it in your kreatopita instead.

For the traditional filo:

  • 500 g all-purpose flour
  • 200 g water, lukewarm
  • 50 g olive oil
  • 15 g salt
  • 10 g vinegar

For the filling:

  • 1 kg lamb (for casserole)
  • 1 kg onions, chopped into rings
  • 100 g rice
  • 200 g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt (to preference)
  • Pepper (to preference)
  • Dried spearmint (to preference)
  • Butter (for cooking and coating)

Note: For a more authentic traditional filo dough, you can use hard flour, albeit you might have to sift it first. Alternatively, you can use ready-made traditional Greek filo sheets.

Execution

  1. In a large bowl, gently stir the ingredients for the traditional filo dough except for the water (flour, salt, olive oil, and vinegar). Add the water slowly while mixing with a spoon. When the liquids are absorbed, knead the mixture until the dough is smooth and non-sticky. Roll it into a ball, cover it with a towel, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  2. When the dough is ready, divide it into 7 even balls and roll them into 7 thin sheets with the rolling pin.
  3. In a large pot, boil the lamb in water until it softens. When it’s ready, chop it into small chunks.
  4. In a deep frying pan, heat the butter and saute the onions for a few minutes until they look transparent. Add the lamb, the rice, the salt, and the pepper, and stir gently. Add 1 cup of water and cook the stew for 4-5 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until mixed. Add the spearmint, the crumbled feta cheese, and the cooked stew, and mix.
  6. Set the oven to “upper and lower heat” and preheat it to 180 °C.
  7. Brush a baking pan with butter, lay a filo sheet, brush it with butter and repeat for 3 more filo sheets. Spread the filling evenly, and cover with the remaining sheets, brushing with butter in between.
  8. Place the pan on the lower rack and bake for 1 hour (approximately) until the top is golden brown.
  9. Let the kreatopita cool for a bit and serve.

This savory meat pie incorporates many of its place of origin’s gastronomical traits. Tasting it takes us back to a time when pies were considered “food multipliers,” feeding several people at once with a small amount of ingredients.

After cooking...

Voidomatis is one of Europe’s cleanest rivers (it has drinkable water) and one of the most popular destinations across the mountains of Epirus. Thousands of visitors delight in the virgin nature across the river every year. They come to Voidomatis to dive into its cool waters (with a steady temperature of 4 °C), enjoy rafting down its streams, and admire the inimitable craftsmanship of the traditional stone bridges connecting its banks.

Ηπειρώτικο Πρωινό-After cooking...