Cretan Fried Cheese Pastries (Sarikopitakia)

Sarikopitakia

Sarikopitakia (fried mizithra cheese pastries)

Sarikopitakia (fried mizithra cheese pastries)Matt Taylor-Gross

These savory fried cheese pies are named for their spiral shapes. Sariki, a Turkish word meaning “turban,” is also the name of a traditional headdress still worn by Cretan men at celebrations. Tsikoudia, a grape-based spirit from Crete, is used in the dough, likely for making it easier to roll out into thin sheets.

What You Will Need

Cretan Fried Cheese Pastries (Sarikopitakia)
These savory fried Cretan pies are named for their spiral shape.
Yield: makes 12 Pastries
Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3 tbsp. tsikoudia or grappa
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for frying
  • 12 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 lb. mizithra cheese (2 cups), or substitute 11 oz. ricotta salata (1½ cups) blended with 5 oz. feta (½ cup)
  • Thyme honey, for serving

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, 1 cup water, the tsikoudia, olive oil, and salt. Mix on low speed until a dough forms, then increase to second speed and continue mixing until the dough is tight and smooth, 3–4 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.
  2. On a lightly dusted work surface, roll the dough out to a 36x15-inch rectangle. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into twelve 3x15-inch strips. Spread 3 generous tablespoons of cheese filling along one long side of each strip, then roll up the dough from that side to seal in the filling, creating a long cylinder. Roll up each cylinder along the work surface to form a coil, then tuck the loose outer ends under and press lightly to flatten and seal.
  3. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet and place it by the stove. In a large (12-inch) cast-iron skillet, add enough olive oil to reach about 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 325°. Fry the sarikopitakia in batches, flipping them occasionally with a slotted spoon or spatula, until golden and crispy, about 8 minutes.
  4. Transfer the pastries to the wire rack to drain. Serve warm, drizzled with thyme honey to taste.