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2000s Recipes + Menus

Moroccan-Style Chicken Phyllo Rolls

Makes32 hors d’oeuvres
  • Active time:1 1/4 hr
  • Start to finish:2 1/4 hr
December 2003
These rolls are based loosely on b’stilla—a phyllo-crusted “pie” of shredded chicken that’s been simmered with Moroccan spices and then mixed with egg and nuts. The egg lends the filling an almost custardlike richness.
  • 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
  • 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

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°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
Cooks’ notes:
  • 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°F oven about 20 minutes.
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