This Christmas was definitely one of the better ones for me personally. While it was major change of scenery (compared to the last few years in Indiana), it was a pleasant surprise in many ways. My dad invited my uncle over for Christmas under the guise of preparing one of his recipes, Poulet en Foillette. Until recently, I knew he was a fabulous cook, but didn't know that in November 1978, he was featured in a dead column called Guys and Galleys in the Los Angeles Times. This section featured home cooks and their personal recipes. I was eager to search for a copy of the article through the archives and was lucky enough on Christmas Day to find and purchase a copy through the LA Times website.
But more pleasing than this, was the opportunity to spend quality time with my uncle, father, brother and my dad's new ladyfriend, and yes, get to prepare and sous chef a wonderful Christmas meal. Uncle Stormy walked me through all of the steps in preparing said Poulet en Foillette, a fancy phrase for Chicken wrapped in phyllo dough. But foodies, trust me, this not simply chicken wrapped in phyllo dough.
Chicken breasts (on the bone, skin on) are poached in a swimming pool of lemon juice, vermouth, various herbs and chicken stock for about an hour. Once cool to the the touch the meat is removed from the bone and sliced into decent hunks of meat. Two sheets of phyllo dough are generously brushed with butter. The phyllo dough is sprinkled with seasoned bread crumbs, then a piece of chicken is wrapped with prosciutto and placed near the top of the phyllo dough. Grated mozzarella cheese is sprinkled, along some with gruyere and the phyllo concoction is gently folded and wrapped into a lil' burrito and brushed again with more butter and sprinkled with a wee shake of paprika. Baked in the oven for 15-20 minutes and doused with a gravy made from the leftover poaching liquid, this dish is a masterpiece fit for one's mouth.
My dad's lady friend made a side dish of roasted brussel sprouts and potatoes with pancetta and shallots, a perfect sidekick for the main event. I put together a simple salad and baked some homemade "no knead" bread again, which according to my uncle, was a great mop for the leftover gravy on the plate. I also baked a batch of linzer cookies, which weren't my most favorite cookie, but my best linzer recipe is still packed. Good vino, good conversation, lots of belly laughing, and celebrated were had by all. I hope you and yours enjoyed a most memorable Christmas with your loved ones. I'm looking forward to setting aside time to do this again, it was well worth the work and the weight. Here's to more fabulous dishes in 2010. Cheers. More importantly, it was a great opportunity to spend time with family and to enjoy each other's company, which is rare these days.