Easter Bread Stuffed with Lamb (Chaniotiki Tourta)
Recipe type: Breads and Rolls
Serves: 8
  • Dough:
  • 1 package dry yeast (1/4 ounce)
  • 1/3 Cup warm water
  • 4 Cups unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons anise seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 eggs; lightly beaten
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 3/4 Cup milk; or more
  • Stuffing:
  • 1/3 Cup olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup chopped onion
  • 1 bulb fennel; finely chopped
  • 1 Cup fennel tops; coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound boned lamb (most fat removed); cut 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 1/2 Cups chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 5 green onions (to 6); thinly sliced
  1. Dough: Combine yeast and water and let stand 2 minutes. Mix flour, anise seeds and salt in bowl of food processor or electric mixer fitted with dough hook. Reserve 1 tablespoon egg for brushing bread during assembly. with motor running, pour in yeast-water mixture and remaining eggs. Add olive oil and enough milk to make smooth dough. Mix until dough forms ball and no longer sticks to sides of bowl, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Turn dough onto lightly floured board and knead until silky, about 5 minutes. Shape into ball. Place dough in large, oiled mixing bowl and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Set aside to rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Stuffing: Heat olive oil in large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add chopped fennel bulb and cook 5 more minutes. Add meat and cook, stirring, until no longer pink on outside, about 10 minutes. Add pepper, salt and water and cook over medium heat 20 minutes. Add parsley and cook until meat is almost done, about 10 minutes. Stir in green onions and fennel tops and remove from heat. Stir in mint and cool. (Dish can be prepared to this point 1 day before and refrigerated, covered. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour before proceeding.) Mash cheese with a fork. Add cheese and yogurt to meat. Stir and adjust seasoning.
  4. Assembly: Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Cut off piece about size of tennis ball and set aside. Divide rest of dough into 2 pieces, making 1 piece slightly larger.
  5. Lightly oil 10 by 8 inch roasting pan and lay larger piece of dough on bottom, flattening with palms and pressing up on sides of pan. Spoon stuffing over dough, distributing evenly. Flatten second piece of dough on lightly floured surface to shape of pan. Place over stuffing. Fold dough on sides of pan down over top piece of dough, rolling to make cord all around. Press folded edge with tines of fork, making sure seam is securely sealed.
  6. Make snake-like cord, thick as little finger, with reserved piece of dough. Place on surface of tourta in shape of square to decorate. Dilute reserved 1 tablespoon egg with few drops of water or milk and brush bread. Sprinkle with sesame or nigella seeds.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake until golden brown on top and hollow-sounding when tapped on bottom, about 45 minutes. Cool before cutting.
  8. This recipe yields 8 servings.
  9. Each serving: 492 calories; 934 mg sodium; 94 mg cholesterol; 23 grams fat; 50 grams carbohydrates; 20 grams protein; 0.49 gram fiber.
NOTES: Recipe from "The Foods of the Greek Islands" by Aglaia Kremezi (Houghton-Mifflin)
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