For our Election Night dinner Brett and I chose a recipe for Greek Chicken Strudel out of Williams Sonoma's Complete Entertaining Cookbook. We had never worked with phyllo dough, you all know how much I love working with chicken, and the recipe called for, as Brett put it, about a thousand ingredients, but it certainly fit the profile of a special dinner.
We cut out a chicken related meltdown by buying a pre-roasted one from the grocery store (on sale for $5!) We ate chicken Monday and then Brett picked the carcass clean and saved the leftovers for Tuesday. We also left out the fresh herbs because I hate dill and am indifferent to parsley.
We got the filling ready to go first because I knew that as soon as the phyllo dough is out of the package things have to move fast and it's best to have everything ready. I sauteed some spinach and had the lovely task of squeezing it dry. (For all you Harry Potter fans out there it was like holding a handful of gillyweed. It was hard to resist the urge to shove the whole slimy thing in my mouth and wait for flippers and gills to grow!) Brett crumbled a block of feta and claimed before bed that his hands still smelled like cheese. Everything got combined in a big mixing bowl. "Everything" consisted of jack cheese, toasted chopped walnuts, eggs, sauteed green onions, nutmeg, coriander, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper.
Once the filling was thoroughly mixed, I got a place ready for the phyllo. When I had a difficult time getting the first sheet off the roll, Brett took charge of dismantling the phyllo (and keeping it covered) while I conquered the melted butter. Four sheets of phyllo with melted butter brushed between every layer...mmmmmmm.
I let Brett do the filling and rolling because he is very good at that sort of thing. Soon we had two gigantic rolls coming out of the oven.
In addition to having a special meal, I got out our fancy china platter to eat off of. In the picture in the cookbook, they have the strudel slices so nicely laid out on a platter. There was no way it was all going to fit on one platter. Brett said he didn't really care, so he ate off of a regular old plate. The picture turned out a bit rosy in hue, but I should tell those of you who don't know that there is beautiful cobalt blue running around the edge of the plate. It looked very presidential! They should get our pattern in the White House!
At this point I was starving (what's new?) and couldn't wait to sit down and eat. This is what went through my head after the first bite, "MMMMM, oh my gosh this is soooooo rich!." After the second bite, "Oh my gosh I don't think I can eat any more!" I am not joking. It was that rich. I did manage to make it through 3 slices before actually calling it quits (Brett made it through 4.) It was delicious, but definitely for special occasions only.