From Too Many Chefs -

November 2, 2005
Phyllo Chicken Triangles

chicken triangle.jpgI have to be honest, my experience with phyllo dough is pretty limited. I like it in Lebanese restaurants where they do those little rolls with cheese and chives. And I've been known to happily nosh on a piece of baklava with a strong black coffee. But it's one of those items I've never gotten round to using in my own kitchen. Most the recipes that use phyllo seem to call for things like rosewater, things that until lately have never been in my kitchen. (I actually bought a bottle a couple months ago and now am waiting for the perfect recipe to come along and call to me....)

Barrett's recipes using phyllo dough have shown me, however, that it doesn't have to be Lebanese or Egyptian to use phyllo dough. And so last week I finally decided to tackle that little food mystery for myself.

Because phyllo dough is so flaky and crisp, I usually tend to assume it's healthy. Once you start browsing the recipes, however, you are quickly disillusioned. Every single one includes the instructions "brush each sheet with butter (or oil)". Yes, there is a reason those lovely paper-thin sheets don't stick together in a stodgy mess, and it's called FAT. Given the fact that the recipe was not going to be Weight Watchers-approved, I decided to throw healthy common sense to the wind and use crème fraîche too. It was tasty.

Phyllo Chicken Triangles

2 chicken breasts
1 package of phyllo dough
1 medium leek
1 fat clove of garlic, minced
150 grams mushrooms
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup crème fraîche
1 tsp tarragon
1 Tbs sesame seeds

Put a pat of butter in a frying pan and turn it up to a medium-high heat. Start cutting the chicken breasts in bite-sized pieces. When the butter beings to froth, start tossing the chicken in the pan. Once you are done chopping the chicken, wash the knife and start on the leek, cutting it in thin rings. Toss or stir the chicken from time to time to keep it from burning (though you want it to brown nicely). Add the leek and the garlic and continue on a lower heat until they are soft and sweet. Add the white wine and turn up the heat briefly to reduce. Scrape up any brown bits that may be on the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat and stir in the crème fraîche and the tarragon.

Melt a few tablespoons of butter in the microwave or on the stove. To assemble the triangles, pull out a sheet or two of phyllo. I used two as I was in a hurry and the sheets were fiddly and sticking together. But in an ideal world, of course you would carefully separate each leaf. Brush half of it lengthwise with butter and fold in half so that you have a long strip of phyllo about 6-7 inches wide. Dollop a quarter of the chicken filling on one end of the dough and fold the dough over at a 90 degree angle. Brush the top with butter and fold again over the triangle. Continue buttering and folding until you have finished the dough. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Continue with the remaining three quarters of the filling.

Bake in a hot oven (200c/400f) until crispy and brown. And serve with some plain green vegetables. Your arteries will thank you.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at November 2, 2005 12:18 PM | TrackBack

Nice! I like the sesame seeds touch.

I was ignorant of just how many types of phyllo there are until I moved to our current neighborhood. I'm convinced you could make dishes with phyllo for months and never get sick of it.

Posted by barrett on November 2, 2005 at 3:31 PM

Sounds good! I am a bit behind on my blog reading, but did you and Clotilde post phyllo dough things on the same day? Curiouser and curiouser ! And as I asked Clo, I will ask you:
Where do you find phyllo in Paris?
As hard to work with as I have heard?

Posted by Alisa on November 3, 2005 at 6:11 AM

I once made a "phyllo filling" with sauteed sticks of parsnips, swedes and carrots mixed with small slices of smoked salmon, and a little creme fraiche. Very good!
Well, you have to use some oil but surely phyllo must be better than puff pastry?

Posted by Clivia on November 3, 2005 at 6:55 AM

Alisa, I'll have to check Clotilde's blog - I haven't been watching it as I know she's on holiday and running recipes from her archives.

I found the phyllo dough at Monoprix; it's in the same section as the pre-rolled pie crusts and puff pastry dough. I found it was a little fiddly separating the sheets, which is why I ended up doubling them. I suspect that it was mostly due to being in a rush to finish and if I'd just calmed down it would have been fine. One thing to remember is that it's not that big a deal if it tears a bit here and there because you are layering it anyway.

Clivia, I don't know which has a higher fat content. It's an interesting question! The salmon and vegetables combination sounds very tasty!

Posted by Meg in Paris on November 3, 2005 at 7:25 AM

Yeah! Thanks for the reply. About a year ago I went looking for phyllo at "my" monoprix, and none was to be found. Will check again.

Posted by Alisa on November 3, 2005 at 8:22 AM

I did some googling now and found out that phyllo is made of flour, oil, salt and water. Puff pastry is called butter dough in swedish, hence my assumption that it contains more fat... And oil is a better kind of fat than butter I have heard... Well, I still don´t really know but phyllo just feels leaner! Also I think that the puff pastry here doesn´t taste good, maybe it is different in France?

Yesss, that filling was delicious. I remember I made quite big "parcels" with it and served as a starter on a bed of lettuce, sprinkled with a light dressing of good olive oil and lemon juice. And toasted pine nuts!

Posted by Clivia on November 3, 2005 at 8:34 AM

Clivia, the classic phyllo recipes ask that you brush each sheet with butter as you lay them on top of each other so you get a nice crisping and a separation of layers from the steam of the butter.

Phyllo may start off healthier, but may end up just as buttery if you follow the traditional technique.

Posted by barrett on November 3, 2005 at 11:34 AM

This really looks good. I love phyllo and since it's so thin, not that many carbs for those of us who care about that. I'm really enjoying reading your blog. Very nice work. By the way, the "advertising policy" is a great idea. Hate those psuedo comment ads.

Posted by kalyn on November 5, 2005 at 8:28 AM

oh, yum! we have a huge amount of sesame seeds I'd love to use up!

Posted by Rachel on November 7, 2005 at 4:55 PM