Mrs. Theodorou’s Kefalonitiki Kreatopita

In Kefalonia, the vasilopita with a lucky charm (tihero) is often a kreatopita (meat pie) or psaropita (fish pie.) Sandy Theodorou, chair of the BLE Traditional Greek Music Department, recorded this recipe for kreatopita from her mother, a native of Kefalonia. As in other areas of Greece, slices of the pie are dedicated as it is cut. One person slices, while another person, not looking at the pie, announces who the slice is for: one for Jesus Christ, one for the house, one for each family or parea member, and so on.

Meat pie from Kefalonia
Source: Argiro Barbarigou,

Kefalonitiki Kreatopita

Ingredients for phyllo dough:

¼ cup water (or more, as needed)
1 cup flour
4 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
1 pound butter

Ingredients for filling:

2 pounds beef, cut into walnut-sized cubes
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/4 cup red wine
6 oz tomato paste
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley if desired
1 cup long grain white rice (e.g. Uncle Ben’s)
3 cups water
Large pan, round or rectangular.

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. First, make the phyllo dough. In a bowl, combine the flour, water, salt, and oil until a smooth dough forms, adding water as needed. Cover in plastic, and let sit while preparing the filling.
  3. While the dough rests, make the filling.
  4. Mix the beef, rice, onion, garlic, water, spices, wine, tomato paste, salt, pepper, olive oil, and parsley.
  5. Divide and roll the dough into balls, four large balls of dough (for the bottom layers) and four smaller balls of dough (for the top layers.)
  6. Roll out the dough balls into discs roughly 3-4 inches wide.
  7. Place slices of cold butter roughly ½ inch thick in between the discs. Separately, stack four discs for the top of the pie and four for the bottom.
  8. Flour the counter, and roll out the top and bottom layers to fit the pan. The bottom layers should be slightly bigger than the pan.
  9. Grease the pan with olive oil.
  10. Press the bottom stack of phyllo into the pan.
  11. Add the filling, spreading evenly around the pan.
  12. Add the tihero, usually a coin wrapped in aluminum foil.
  13. Cover with the top layer of phyllo. Oil the edges, and press the edges of the bottom layer into the top layer to attach.
  14. Brush a little olive oil on top, and bake for two hours. After one hour, make two or three holes in the top of the pie with a skewer or fork.

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