Love and Olive Oil

Moroccan-Style Chicken Phyllo Rolls

Poor Taylor is out of kitchen-commission for a while. With a painful lower back, standing on his feet and washing dishes is the last thing he should be doing. Needless to say, I was on my own as far as cooking. And I have to say, I picked the WRONG dish to cook on my own.

Three hours later…

I do have to say these were delicious. And worth the time. And mess (you should have seen the mess). My new favorite flavor just might be cinnamon used in a savory application. These rolls are just that – you’d think the chicken was candy. Delicious. The tomato sauce was a nice touch too, as it had some of the same spices as the rolls. It’d be great used as a substitute for traditional marinara sauce in other dishes.

As if this recipe wasn’t enough (and this might have contributed to the 3 hours I spent in the kitchen) but I figured since I had the phyllo dough out already, why not make Baklava? So I did. We have yet to try it though, it’s still on the counter (and looking might tasty, I hope). By the time dinner was done it was almost 8:00, and we stuffed ourselves. Before we knew it it was bedtime and our stomachs were still full. I’ll be sure to post later when we actually try the baklava, which has the potential to be, um, interesting… (funny story… I’ll explain later).

Needless to say, if you have an extra 3 hours and a package of chicken thighs, I urge you to give this little gem of a recipe a try. :) You won’t regret it!

Moroccan-Style Chicken Phyllo Rolls with Spiced Tomato Sauce

Makes 32 rolls (4-6 appetizer servings)
Recipe from Epicurious

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Scant teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/4 lb chicken thighs (with skin and bones)
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
8 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed if frozen
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds (didn’t have these – we used black sesame seeds instead. Didn’t taste the same I’m sure, but they looked pretty!)

Make filling:
Cook onion in oil along with salt, cumin, ginger, turmeric, pepper, and coriander in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add chicken, broth, water, and cinnamon stick and simmer, covered, turning chicken over once, until meat is very tender, about 45 minutes total. Transfer chicken with tongs to a bowl, reserving cooking liquid.

When cool enough to handle, shred chicken, discarding skin and bones, and transfer to a large bowl. Transfer cooking liquid to a 2-cup glass measure (do not clean saucepan) and let stand 1 minute, then skim off fat and discard cinnamon stick. Return liquid to saucepan and simmer over moderately high heat, uncovered, until reduced to about 1/4 cup (liquid will look like a glaze in bottom of pan), about 8 minutes, then stir into shredded chicken along with almonds.

Reserve 2 tablespoons beaten egg in a cup for egg wash. Lightly season remaining egg with salt and pepper, then cook in 1/2 tablespoon butter in an 8- to 10-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, stirring, until just set but still slightly soft. Stir scrambled egg into filling.

Make rolls:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Put 1 phyllo sheet on a work surface, keeping remaining phyllo covered with overlapping sheets of plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel, and brush generously with some melted butter. Evenly sift 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon over buttered phyllo using a fine-mesh sieve, then top with another phyllo sheet and generously brush with butter.

Halve buttered phyllo stack crosswise, then arrange 1 half with a long side nearest you. Spread 1/4 cup chicken filling in a narrow strip along edge nearest you, then roll up filling tightly in phyllo, leaving ends open. Transfer roll, seam side down, to a cutting board set inside a baking pan (to help contain mustard seeds when sprinkling). Make another roll with remaining half stack. Make 6 more rolls in same manner, transferring to cutting board.

Lightly brush top of rolls with egg wash and immediately sprinkle with mustard seeds, pressing lightly on seeds to help adhere. Cut each roll crosswise into 4 pieces and arrange pieces 1 inch apart on 2 baking sheets. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until phyllo is golden brown, about 12 minutes total.

Transfer rolls to a rack to cool slightly.

*Rolls can be assembled (but not coated or cut) 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
*Rolls can be assembled and cut (but not coated or baked) 2 weeks ahead and frozen, wrapped well in plastic wrap. Coat frozen rolls, then bake (do not thaw) in a preheated 350 degree F oven about 20 minutes.

Spiced Tomato Sauce

Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Recipe from Epicurious.

Tomato Sauce:
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of ground cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 (14 1/2- to 15-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice, coarsely chopped (reserving juice)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Cook onion, garlic, ginger, and spices in oil in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in vinegar and simmer over moderately low heat 1 minute. Add tomatoes (with juice) and brown sugar, then increase heat to moderate and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Puree sauce in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Serve at room temperature.

Sauce can be made 3 days ahead and cooled completely, then chilled, covered.

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  1. Omg, these look amazing! I will be making these very soon. If you check my blog, you can see that recently I made baklava for the first time! It was quite the experience. Everyone was crazy for it though! Beautiful pictures!

  2. Forgot to post back after I made these. They were absolutely wonderful. A pain in the a#$ to make, but well worth the effort. And oh my did they smell delicious coming out of the oven. Everybody at the party I was having almost knocked me over to get at them. hehe.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. They look delicious and sound like they were worth all of the work!

  4. These look amazingly good. I’m glad I followed the link from
    I’m having a dinner party tomorrow that these will work wonderfully for.

    Oh and speaking of baklava, I just made some last weekend with something a bit different. Instead of using the traditional honey for the syrup, I used agave nectar and my god was it amazing. You should try it sometime.

  5. Michelle –

    They could work one-handed, though they are bit messy. Try making them smaller (you might get 8 or 9 rolls instead of 6). I had one small one at the end and it was definitely easier to eat. :)

    Let me know how they turn out if you do make them!

  6. three hours or not, this looks good! i’m trying to put together a menu of good one-handed foods for an upcoming scrabble party, and this just might have to be on the list.

  7. mmmm, looks like they were worth the wait!

  8. these look amazing! I enjoyed browsing your blog….went to school and lived in nashville until two years ago…hope you are liking it!

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