Because I'm used to working with phyllo anyhow, and we have one diner who is not partial to pastry crust, I was thinking about making a "pot pie" with phyllo. There are a bazillion recipes where people press phyllo into muffin cups and bake various items inside, so I could have gone that way, but I decided to try something else. I'll give this one an A on flavor but a C- on execution since my intent was for you to be able to see spirals of all the different layers.
Before I started, I was debating whether I should stack the layers and roll them like a stuffed meatloaf, or roll one layer, set up the next one, roll the first into it, set up a third, roll the first two... I should have gone with my instinct and rolled them separately! Since everyone enjoyed this so much and deemed it a "keeper," I'll be sure to try it that way next time. If that doesn't work, I'll just wrap it like a strudel after that. I'll still keep the sauce separate though, so the dough can crisp up.
For the filling, I slightly modified my version of a Taste of Home recipe I make from time to time. That's a Chicken Pot Pie with a Hashbrown Crust.
1 pkg phyllo
8 T butter, divided
1 T Crisco (optional)
1/4 c flour
1 t chicken stock base
2 c chicken broth
1 c milk
1 t dry rubbed sage
2 t dry parsley
salt / pepper
2-3 c cooked chicken, diced
1 lg onion, diced
3-4 stalks celery, diced
1 1/2 c carrots - shredded or diced small
1 1/2 c frozen baby peas, thawed
Saute the celery and onion in 4T of the butter until soft, then scoop out of the pot with a spider or slotted spoon onto paper towels. You want to leave as much of the butter in the pot as you can, and you want to blot the celery/onion so it's not so wet that it gums up your dough.
Whisk the flour into the remaining butter in the pot and let cook for a few minutes to form a roux. Once it starts to get a little color to it, go ahead and whisk in the Worcestershire, then slowly whisk in the broth and milk to incorporate. Add the chicken stock base (or a bouillon cube) and the herbs, then bring up to a boil, whisking often, until it thickens. For some reason, it wasn't thickening for me like it normally does. If that happens, just stir a little water into some corn starch to form a slurry and add a little at a time to the pot until it cooperates. Season with a little salt and pepper, then remove from heat and set aside. Just give it a stir once in a while so it doesn't form a skin on top before you get back to it. You can warm it up again when the roll comes out of the oven.
I never thought about it until I opened the jar, but I have apparently never used rubbed sage before. I've used fresh sage, and I thought I had used jarred, but when I opened this one, I was surprised to see that it was packed all the way to the top. When I went to scoop some out, I realized it was packed in there almost like moss. It had an interesting texture. As for the parsley, that's not pictured above because I hadn't planned on using it. When I went to put the sage in the spice drawer, I noticed the parsley and figured what the heck. Although I couldn't help but channel my inner Simon & Garfunkel and automatically started singing, I did manage to resist the impulse to reach for the rosemary and thyme as well. :)
As with the celery/onion combo, you want to make sure you peas and carrots aren't carrying a lot of extra moisture, so go ahead and pour those out onto paper towels or a clean dish towel to blot. If you like a little texture, you can use the carrots raw; otherwise, give them a quick blanch in boiling water then run them under cold water to stop the cooking process before blotting.
I was born pre-programmed to clarify my butter when working with phyllo, but since you will be pouring gravy over this, you can skip that step if you want and just melt the other 4T. I always add at little Crisco with the butter to make the dough more crispy.
Preheat oven to 375.
Lay two sheets of phyllo on your work surface, with a long edge facing you, and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle carrots over the dough, going all the way out to the short edges but leaving a gap along the front and back to help with rolling. If you're going to continue the way I did, stack two more sheets of phyllo over the carrots, brush with butter, then cover with peas. Repeat with the celery/onion mixture, then again for the chicken.
Once I had all of the layers stacked, I rolled from the edge closest to me toward the back. That's when I realized that my carrots were too wet - a bunch of them tore through the dough. No problem! Once I had the whole thing rolled, I put two more sheets of phyllo down, brushed with butter and rolled again.
With a very sharp knife, cut slits in the top. This serves two purposes: 1) allows steam to escape; 2) now you know where to cut your portions for serving. :-)
Pop it in the oven until nicely golden. If it starts to brown too quickly, you can drop the temp down to 325, or cover it with foil. Oh, you might notice in my pic that I baked it on foil. That didn't turn out to be necessary. I did that so I could flip the ends up in case the filling wanted to spill out, but that wasn't an issue at all.
Once it starts to get a nice brown on it, go ahead and bring your sauce back up to temp. When the roll comes out of the oven, let it sit for a minute or two, then follow through with the slices you made on the top. Plate and spoon sauce over the top.
Aside from being something different visually, it's also probably somewhat healthier than a traditional pot pie since you end up using less sauce. Had I made a regular pot pie, or even the hashbrown version, I would have automatically incorporated all of the sauce. With this, there was enough left that I am storing it in the freezer for another occasion.