The cooler fall days encourage a shift in my cooking. After a binge on vegetable soups in all stages, my taste buds are hungry for something I can sink my teeth into. Enter phyllo dough.
Most people know it as the thin layers of dough between ground nuts and honey in the Greek pastry baklava. But phyllo dough begs to be used in a million ways. My mom and I experimented with phyllo while I was in high school and I fell in love with its diversity.
My favorite and something I’ve been making since my 20’s, is phyllo chicken with tarragon and mustard. I don’t remember where this recipe came from but have made it for catering clients and shared it with friends over the years. I taught my dear friend Debbie how to make it right after college and to this day she tells me how much she still enjoys the recipe.
Phyllo chicken is the perfect dinner party entrée as the little packets of goodness represent gifts of love. It is visually attractive and your guests will truly feel special.
Chicken breasts are first smeared with Dijon mustard and sprinkled with tarragon leaves, then wrapped into a square of layered phyllo dough. They bake into a beautiful golden brown bundle. I like to dress them up with a “ribbon” of thin roasted red pepper for an added touch of elegance. Set the baked parcel in a pool of delicate mustard sauce for an infusion of flavors. Don’t be afraid of the mustard in this recipe. The addition of cream tames its sharpness and produces a silky, delectable sauce.
Layers of buttery crispness shatter beneath the fork, exposing a savory chicken breast. The combination is undeniably delicious. I would serve this with haricot verts (thin French green beans), carrot mousse and crusty French bread. For dessert, poached pears or a flourless chocolate cake.
I have made these packets and successfully frozen them, unbaked, until the day of my party.
Treat your friends to this gift of love. Someone will ask you for the recipe.
Mustard Chicken in Phyllo
This easy-to-make main dinner course is a great idea for a holiday get-together.
- 3 boneless chicken breasts
- Dijon mustard
- 6 springs fresh tarragon or 1 about Tablespoon of dried tarragon
- Salt and pepper
- 6 sheets of phyllo dough
- Melted butter – about 4-5 Tablespoons
- Mustard Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion (thinly sliced or 2 shallots, halved and sliced thinly)
- 1 teaspoon tarragon
- 1 Cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 Cups chicken stock
- 1/3 Cup Dijon mustard
- 1 Cup cream
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Cut chicken breasts in half.
- Spread about a teaspoon of mustard on the chicken breast. Top with either a tarragon sprig or sprinkle with dried tarragon.
- Unroll phyllo dough. Butter one sheet of dough and fold in half. Place mustard chicken one inch from narrow end of dough. Fold outer edges of phyllo into the chicken and roll up. Butter the top and sides. Place on a cookie sheet seam side down. Refrigerate until ready to bake.
- For the Mustard Sauce:
- Melt butter and add onions or shallots. Saute until soft but not browned. Add tarragon.
- Add wine to onions and raise heat to medium high. Add chicken stock and mustard. Whisk to combine. Reduce by one half. This takes about a half an hour.
- Add the cream, reduce heat and cook on medium low until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Keep warm on simmer until ready to use or cool and refrigerate to reheat later.
- Bake chicken phyllos at 375 degrees about 30 minutes or until deeply golden brown.
- Thinly slice a roasted red pepper. Drape over the package and form two loops to look like a ribbon. Serve on top a pool of creamy mustard sauce.
Ciao for now,
“Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.”
― Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything