I 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.