It started with some random thoughts on pastries and potato pies early in the week. By the middle of the week, the focus was on filo pastry, those fragile sheets that require lots of melted butter and that bake up shatteringly crisp. At the end of the week, these daydreamy thoughts threatened to take over every waking moment I had and something had to be done about them! After running some ideas past Mirna, I came up with the following idea.
I wanted a contrast to the crisp exterior of filo and so soft and creamy mashed potatoes would be the filling. But just mashed potatoes would be boring, no? How about some chopped browned onions mixed in? And then while I was at it, I fried some pancetta too and stirred that through. And then, heck, why not? Some grated cheese at the end. And this is what I came up with! We had them with some salad for dinner but they’d make a lovely snack or light lunch (that is, if you serve only one and refrain from gorging on them!).
If you’re not keen on the shape, after rolling the potato mixture into the filo, you can cut the cylinder into shorter lengths and bake it like that.
Bacon, Cheese and Onion Filo Spirals
For the filling
4 medium sized baking potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large onion, chopped
70g pancetta, chopped
3 tbsps milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a few handfuls of grated mature cheddar
For the pastries
8 sheets of filo pastry
To make the filling, place the potatoes in a pot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil until they are soft and ready for mashing. In the meantime, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the chopped onions over a low-medium heat until they are starting to brown. Add the pancetta and fry until it has cooked and the oil rendered out. When the potatoes are done, drain them and return them to the pot for mashing, also throwing in the milk. Mash, mash, mash! Stir through the onions and pancetta and salt and pepper to taste. When the filling has had a chance to cool down, stir through the grated cheese.
To make the pastries, firstly preheat the oven to 180 Celsius. Take a sheet of filo pastry (take care to keep the other sheets covered to prevent them from drying out – a damp tea towel is good for this) and lay it on your board/workspace. Brush the whole sheet with melted butter. Along one end, put an eighth of the filling (about 2 heaping tablespoons) and then roll up the entire sheet – you should have a long cylinder of filo pastry with the filling through the middle. Coil the cylinder into a snail shape but you can also slice the cylinder into smaller tube shapes. Lay the pastry on a lined baking sheet and brush the tops and sides with more melted butter. Repeat with the rest of the filo sheets and the filling.
When all the pastries are ready, slip the tray into the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve.