Creamy and cheesy chicken, mushroom and vegetable filling sandwiched between layers of phyllo pastry. So pretty and so delicious—you probably can’t tell just by looking at the photos that this was a salvage operation. See, the filling for this phyllo chicken mushroom spinach pie was recycled from excess chicken turnover filling.
When I was making the filling for the chicken turnovers a couple of days ago, I didn’t realize that there was only enough puff pastry to make exactly four turnovers. As a result, I only used about a half of the filling. It will take another long drive down to the city to buy more puff pastry and, by that time, the leftover filling will probably have gone bad.
Alex asked if I couldn’t use phyllo pastry instead. Possible, yes, but I didn’t want the phyllo-crusted pie to have the same exact filling as the chicken turnovers. So, I recycled. I blanched a large handful of spinach, chopped the leaves and added them to sliced mushrooms in a hot pan, and then I threw in the leftover filling. I let the mixture simmer until quite dry, transferred it to a strainer and allowed it to cool. By the time the filling was cool, the phyllo pastry had thawed and the oven was being preheated.
The technique for making this phyllo-crusted savory pie is similar to how I made baklava. The distribution is different though. I used 20 phyllo sheets (cut to fit an 8″x8″ baking pan)—10 for the bottom crust and another 10 for the top crust. Each phyllo sheet was dabbed with melted butter.
Because the filling is more dense, my phyllo chicken mushroom spinach pie took almost twice as long to cook as the baklava. I started checking the pie after 30 minutes in the oven but the top crust was much too pale. I gave the pie another 10 minutes but, at that point, the top was just starting to brown. After baking for a total of 50 minutes, my phyllo chicken mushroom spinach pie was perfect.
As with the baklava, the unbaked pie was cut into quarters before going into the oven. When it was done, I recut to make sure that the knife went all the way through the bottom crust. I would have howled with frustration if, after baking the perfect pie, I’d just ruin the presentation with sloppy cutting.
I’m very pleased with the result. Good looking and delicious.
- Rinse the spinach leaves. Blanch in boiling water with about a teaspoon of salt. Strain, rinse in cold water, strain again and squeeze (see illustration). Chop the spinach.
- Heat a non-stick pan. Throw in the sliced mushrooms and cook until lightly browned and quite dry. Add the spinach. Sprinkle with a little salt. Continue cooking for another minute.
- Add the chicken pie filling to the mushrooms and spinach. Cook, stirring, until simmering.
- Place a colander over a bowl. Dump the filling into the colander and allow excess liquid to drip. Leave to cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, thaw your phyllo pastry sheets.
- When the filling has cooled and the phyllo has thawed, preheat the oven to 375F.
- Take an 8"x8" baking pan and brush the bottom and sides with melted butter.
- If your phyllo pastry sheets are larger than the baking pan, cut them (use scissors to minimize breakage) to fit.
- Lay a phyllo sheet on the bottom of the pan. Dab with melted butter. Repeat until you have 10 phyllo sheets all dabbed with melted butter.
- Spread the filling on top of the 10 layers of phyllo.
- Scatter the cream cheese cubes over the filling.
- Place a phyllo sheet on top of the filling. Dab with melted butter. Repeat until you have another 10 sheets, all dabbed with melted butter, on top of the filling.
- Using an extremely sharp knife, carefully cut the unbaked pie into quarters.
- Bake the phyllo chicken mushroom spinach pie at 375F for 50 minutes. Do check after 30 minutes though. Ovens differ from one another and your pie may bake faster than mine.
- Take the pie out of the oven. Cool for about five minutes to allow the filling to firm up. Recut so that the knife goes all the way through the bottom crust.
- Serve the phyllo chicken mushroom spinach pie while hot.
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