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Chicken Borek (Tavuklu Borek)

outRIAAge | Dec 16, 201603:50 PM    

I discovered these at Turkish Delight, a bakery near Pike Place Market in Seattle. Just about all of my favourite foods are wrapped in something, and these are up there with pork pies in my favourites. It took me half a dozen visits before I was able to reverse-engineer their recipe to my satisfaction. I'm still working on it, don't have some of the ingredient quantities yet nailed down, so the recipe is a bit vague, but workable.

2lb chicken, diced (preferably a mix of thighs along with a little white meat)
1 C Italian parsley, chopped
Olive oil
1/2 C basil, finely chopped
3 large onions, chopped fairly small
1 lb filo dough (or any savoury pastry you like)
2-8 cloves of garlic, squished
4oz unsalted butter
2-3 good tomatoes, unpeeled and diced
1/2 tsp fresh-ground cumin
Fresh thyme, and any other compatible herbs you fancy, or replace them all with mint
2 TBS Turkish red pepper paste, or some equivalent, or sriracha in a pinch
Raisins (I like to souse them in vodka, which is probably pointless, here)
Feta - just look at the mixture, and add what looks like an appropriate amount. Feta is the key ingredient, so add enough
Plain unsweetened yogurt
Salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste
Water as needed

Brown the chicken in batches, and set aside. Soften onions and garlic for a few minutes, add in the chicken, and cook on low for 5-10 minutes. Add thyme, tomatoes, and just enough water.

Cover and simmer ~20 minutes. The sauce should be fairly thick so reduce if necessary. Stir in the other ingredients, season to taste and set aside.

It's traditional to wrap them with the pastry like a flag, in small triangles, but I prefer the larger, simple rectangle shown. Place them seam side down on a baking sheet. I paint mine with an egg-yolk/heavy cream wash, and sprinkle with poppyseeds.

Bake in 375 degree oven until light brown, about 20 minutes. Excellent hot or cold.
I like to paint the "inside" surface of the feta with the egg-yolk wash, which somewhat waterproofs the pastry and stops it from getting soggy.

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