Perfect for parties or just a special dinner, my Mum’s chicken filo pasties (or chicken filo parcels), filled with prosciutto, cheese and spinach are pretty easy to put together, taste delicious and look rather impressive.
Mum’s chicken filo pasties
My mum is a great cook but when it comes to sharing the details of her creations she’s a bit frustrating.
She never really follows recipes and is very good at instinctively adding this and that to get the perfect balance.
The problem is that she never knows what went into something. It’s also pretty rare that something appears on the menu more than once (except in the case of her chicken filo).
Chicken filo pasties (aka chicken in filo pastry) were mum’s invention for Easter a few years ago and they were so good, with a bit of tweaking, she served them for Mother’s Day lunch that year too.
Yay, a repeat! In case you don’t understand my excitement, a repeat means I actually get the recipe!
The best part is that they can be made ahead and frozen so on the day, all you have to do is take them out of the freezer to thaw then pop them in the oven making them perfect for entertaining (or for keeping them in the freezer for a quick dinner).
As luck would have it I popped in on the day mum was doing the prep work so I grabbed a few pics as she worked. It’s a good thing because I don’t think my explanation would be too clear without pictorial support.
Inside the chicken is nice and juicy thanks to the cheesy spinach and rich gruyere and the proscuitto gives it a saltiness finished off with the crunchiness of the wafer-thin pastry.
You’ll notice that the recipe isn’t very exact.
It’s more of a ‘feel your way’ recipe rather than set in stone. Feel free to experiment with flavours or fillings.
Mum’s only big tip is to make sure you flatten the chicken out otherwise it will take too long to cook and the pastry with burn.
What is filo pastry?
Filo pastry is a super-thin (like paper) pastry common in Greek (hello Baklava!) Middle Eastern (Boureks anyone?) and Balkan cooking.
When you use the pastry, you join layers by brushing each layer with butter or oil which also helps it become crisp as it cooks.
You can buy it at most supermarkets in the freezer or fridge section.
What is filo pastry made from?
Filo pastry is made using flour, water and usually a little bit of oil or vinegar, although some recipes also use egg yolk. You can make your own but it is pretty fiddly and one of those things I put in the too hard basket.
A few tips for using filo pastry from Caroline’s Cooking:
- The main thing to remember is that it will dry out quickly once exposed to air, so only take a small amount out of the packaging at a time.
- Make sure you have your oil or melted butter ready before you take out your pastry so that you can work quickly.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the pastry sheets to try to avoid ripping.
- Use a pastry brush to brush oil or butter on evenly.
- If you are shaping filo pastry eg in a mould or to stick to itself, do this quickly before the butter dries and/or the pastry becomes more brittle.
- Don’t worry if the pastry breaks a little, you can stick it together with the butter or oil as you use it and won’t notice the difference in the end result. I just try to not use torn sheets in what will be the outer layer so it looks neater.
Could you use puff pastry instead of filo to make chicken parcels?
I haven’t tried it but I think you could just as easily use puff pastry for this recipe in the same way although you will need to cook at 200C fan-forced.
What about you?
When you entertain do you try to do it all in advance or are you more a spur-of-the-moment entertainer?
- Filo pastry
- Melted butter for brushing
- Free-range chicken breast fillets (1 per person)
- Grated gruyere cheese (1 tbsp per chicken fillet)
- Creamed spinach - spinach mixed with bechamel sauce (2 tbsp per chicken fillet)
- Proscuitto (1 slice per chicken fillet)
- Dates (would add a raw date chopped but Dad hates them)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line a baking sheet with aluminium foil and baking paper.
- Place the chicken fillet on a chopping board and bash it out until it is about 2cm thick.
- Lay one sheet of pastry out, brush it with butter then place another sheet on top then brush it with butter too.
- Lay out one chicken fillet then pile the middle with cheese, spinach and folded proscuitto (see image).
- Fold the left side of the chicken over the filling then the right side and then fold the left side of the pastry over the top.
- Brush it with butter and fold the top of the pastry down over the chicken, brush it with butter and fold up the bottom.
- Finally, brush the rest of the pastry with butter and roll up the chicken.
- Place it on a baking dish seam-side down and brush with butter.
- At this stage you can freeze the parcels. Freeze in a single layer. Defrost before cooking.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until browned.