Sunday, 28 August 2011

Rollin', rollin', rollin' round the kit-chen

I tend not to blog every meal I cook. It's largely down to time restraints, but also because I like to hold things back until I can make a more interesting post, especially as I made the decision a long time ago that this wouldn't be a 'how to cook' blog. This meal, however, was so tasty that I just couldn't keep it to myself. It's worthy of a post all to itself. 

The full Silvena Rowe recipe can be found here, but she was having a laugh if she thought two chicken legs could feed four people. I used four legs and three thighs and made six quite large rolls. I first saw Silvena make these spring rolls months ago on Saturday Kitchen, but her overt flirting and banter with James Martin distracted me from what she was doing. I happened to catch it again a couple of weeks ago, concentrated on the food (not James) and decided I’d give them a try. I wasn't disappointed. 

I'll warn you, there are a lot of processes in this dish. It requires some forward planning and, had I absorbed the recipe fully before starting, I would have begun much earlier. Everything seems so quick on television, doesn't it? It can really be broken down into two stages - preparing and cooking the chicken, then assembling and cooking the rolls and coleslaw. 

You start by frying the chicken long enough just to give it some colour, before adding cumin, dried mint, a bay leaf and some chopped shallots. The aroma around the kitchen at this stage was heavenly. After a couple of minutes I transferred the contents of the pan to an oven proof casserole, covered it with chicken stock and left it in the oven to cook through. After cooking and once the meat had cooled, the chicken can be stripped, keeping the shallots and poaching liquor aside. The good news is that this can (and probably should) be done in advance. I could have saved myself the trouble of frantically waving a tea towel above the chicken like an impatient matador had I cooked and cooled it during the day. 

Once your chicken is chopped up into nice little bitesize pieces, it's combined with halloumi, chillis, parsley, the cooked shallots and some of the liquid the chicken was cooked in. Be careful not to add too much liquid or it’ll turn the pastry soggy. From here it's an assembly job something akin to rolling a big fat cigar. You all know how to roll cigars, right? It's really as simple as spreading out a sheet of filo, running a line of filling along the edge and rolling, using melted butter as your glue. Cover that tasty cigar in butter, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds and you're good to go. Just whack them in the oven on a baking tray until the pastry's crisp. 

I can't actually remember making the carrot coleslaw. By this time I was so hungry and people were banging on the kitchen door waiting for food with such ferocity that I seemed to be making it on autopilot and as quickly as possible. You can find the method in the actual recipe though, and it tasted delicious. I can't stress enough how tasty this dish is. It takes a lot of work, but give yourself some time to do it without rushing and it's worth every second. And if you don't like any of the ingredients, substitute. Don't like halloumi? Try feta instead. Not a fan of chicken? Maybe try some lamb. Or even make some vegetarian ones. There are all kinds of flavours that would be brilliant in these crispy little things. When it comes to Mediterranean food, I always consider myself married to Italy, but Silvena may just have converted me to the flavours of the east. 

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