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Passover matza-meat-pie: The Pastel

A yummy traditional matza-meat-pie that my family has been enjoying from generation to generation. This dish is the ABC of CREATING PASSOVER CULINARY MEMORIES.

There are a few versions of this, but I will give you the exact one I make, a combination of Aunt Shoshana’s and Aba Shaki’s recipe and which is a proven success.

Ingredients for a large pan (about 12 portions)

2-3 med-large onions chopped small
1 kg (2.2 pounds) fine ground meat
1/2 kg roasted eggplant (perfectly ok to buy that ready in a jar!)
1/2 cup pine nuts (non roasted)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 table spoons oregano
salt and pepper
4-6 matzas (twice your pan size)
2 eggs (or one egg per 2 matzas)
1 cup real chicken stock

In a large saucepan sauté the onion till golden. Add the meat little by little and keep mixing till all the meat is cooked and smells good. About 5 mins. Add the eggplant, cinnamon and oregano. Keep mixing on slow heat for a couple more mins. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large flat bowl get your matzas soaked for a few mins after you cut each matza in a few large pieces. When they start to be mushy, but not too mushy, squeeze them to get all the water out. By that time there will be no reminder of crunchiness or shape. Take each piece an unfold it.

Oil pan and start layering the small wet matza pieces at the bottom of your pan, like a puzzle or a collage.Layer the sides as well. You will end up having a beautiful, even matza crust.

Pour the meat filling into the crust. Top with another layer of matza collage.

Slightly beat the eggs in a bowl and pour evenly on top of the whole pie.

Bake in preheated oven at 180C (360F) for about 40-45 mins.

If you made it just before the meal:

As soon as it gets out of the oven pour the chicken stock (which is cold or room temperature) evenly on the pie and then cover with a clean towel till all the liquids are absorbed, and then serve immediately.

If you made the pie in advance (up to 4 days):

Take the pie out of the fridge and let it un-chill about an hour. Heat the chicken stock and pour evenly on top of the cold pie. Bake in preheated oven at 180C (360F) for about 15 mins and serve.

The idea is that if the pastel is hot – then you add cold chicken stock. And if the pastel is cold then you add hot chicken stock.

Serve with a lemon wedge and a brown egg (aka Guevos Haminados).

You can also make it way in advance and freeze after the first baking (without using the chicken stock yet). Then, the evening before the seder take out of the freezer and into the fridge. Heat it as if you made it in advance.

Some variations include:
– substituting the eggplant with chicken liver.
– substituting some of the meat with chicken or lamb meat.
– adding mushrooms, and or tomatoes.

PRAY FOR LEFTOVERS! There usually aren’t any, but if you are lucky enough they make amazing lunches the days to come and they freeze well for later on too!

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