So yesterday I decided to give this a go, and I learned a few things. Like, how few instructions there were in the recipe--absolutely no hint of shape or folding technique, which of course is so paramount in dealing with phyllo.
Here are two pics of my final result:
So, looked great, tasted great (Bob ate TWO huge slices, and might have gone for thirds if I had not stopped him. But I still have a few complaints which could easily be rectified, and I want to pass those thoughts on to any of you who attempt the dish.
1) Type of phyllo. These days you can buy small sheets of phyllo, but for this recipe you need the full size, 12' x 17".
2) Type of pan to use. I chose to go springform and went with the 10" size based on the ample amount of filling I had in the bowl. Phyllo is so delicate that I couldn't see myself trying to scoop it out of a glass pie dish, and I knew the metal pan would result in crispier crust. Too, in my head, I liked the idea of a large, uniform pork pie shape both as an aesthetic all by itself and for what would end up on the plate. The springform was perfect, and I would use it again.
3) Chicken. I didn't bother with breasts only, I used meat from a whole Costco chicken I bought the day before. I didn't 'chop' as per the instructions, rather I shredded. To season it and because it wouldn't cook with the seasonings as per the original instructions, I simply mixed the dry spices into the chicken broth and poured that over.
4) Herbs and spices: didn't bother with the parsley, but went bigger on the cilantro. Also added a nice bit of freshly ground black pepper and two fat pinches of red chile flakes. I didn't use the extra spoon of cinnamon, being one of those who loves that spice in moderation but can tire of it real fast. I didn't need it to fight the cumin, but rather support it.
5) Eggs and feta. Used the prescribed quantity of eggs and feta, guessing of course on the latter since I don't have a scale. 200 grams would be half a pound, which I guessed to be about 3/4 of already crumbled cheese. I would double that, and would also add a third egg: the pie was on the dry side (a half cup of broth doesn't go very far) and needed more 'glue' to cause the ingredients to meld together.
6) Butter and assembly. The recipe says 2-3 ounces of butter, about which I was skeptical from the getgo so melted a cube. I used at least about 75% of that even though I brushed quite sparingly and only used 11 sheets. Should have settled for half a cube and added a few tablespoons of a neutral oil to it, like safflower. How I used the 11 sheets, which turned out to be judiciously right: I buttered the sheets on my prep counter and then moved them into the pan. The part of each sheet in the bottom of the pan went about two-thirds of the way across. The first four went in so that I created a '+' shape. I then laid in four more in the shape of an 'x'. That created eight flaps even spaced apart for the top crust. Next I cut three circles roughly the size of my pan's footprint out of dry phyllo, brushed TWO of them, reserving the third, and laid the two in the center to reinforce the bottom crust at 10 sheets thick. Now, in went the filling, which I patted flat, and the flaps were folded in as tidily as possible. Finally, the third round sheet was brushed and laid on top for a uniform surface. Almost put two on top but decided to see if just one sufficed, and it did.
7) Baking time. The overall cooking time of 40 minutes with half of that at 300 degrees seemed a little short to me, considering the overall density and that there was raw egg in the pie. So I went 30 minutes at 350 (on a lower shelf, to keep it from coloring too fast), removed the pie from the oven and removed the outer ring of the form, found the vertical edges a bit soft/dry, so brushed them with butter, put the pie on a cookie sheet to catch any falling bits, and returned it to the oven for 10 additional minutes--all at 350.
So there you have it. The whole concept and the flavors, we LOVED. It just needed a bit more moisture to keep the bits from tumbling out by themselves.
The original recipe:
Paula Wolfert's Chicken and Artichoke Pie
4 small or 3 large chicken breasts
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon; another 1 tsp set aside for later
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup chicken stock
some olive oil
2 leeks, chopped
a handful of chopped parsley (about 1/2 a bunch)
a handful of chopped cilantro (same)
2 jars artichoke hearts (canned in oil), chopped
200 g feta cheese, crumbled
phyllo dough sheets (about a dozen for a large pie)
butter, melted (about 2-3 oz)
Bake chicken, covered, at moderate heat with spices and stock, about 30 mins; chop the chicken into small chunks, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid for later.
Stir-fry chopped leeks with olive oil (about 10 mins, until they are soft).
Combine chicken, reserved juices, leeks, parsley, cilantro, artichokes, feta cheese, egg, and the extra cinnamon in a bowl; mix well.
Be careful not to let the phyllo dough sheets dry out (I roll them back up every time I take one sheet). Melt the butter; use a pastry brush to spread butter all over the sheet. Put the sheet into a greased baking dish, so that the edges hang over. Continue until you have about a dozen sheets, arranged all around the dish. Scoop the filling into the dish; fold over the edges of the pastry sheets. If the pie is not fully covered, butter up a few more sheets and arranged them in the middle so everything is covered. Brush the top of the pie with butter.
For a large pie, bake for 20 mins at a moderate-high temperature (I usually go for 350); then for another 20 mins at moderate temperature (e.g. 300), until the pastry is golden.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov