I have been making this chicken strudel recipe for over 25 years and I never tire of serving it to guests and family. With its flaky phyllo crust, it tastes as impressive as it looks.
- If you’ve never worked with phyllo dough before, don’t worry; it’s not as difficult as it seems. People often recommend covering the dough with a damp towel in order to prevent cracking, but I find that that makes the sheets of dough too moist. Instead, I simply try to work quickly enough so that the sheets won’t have enough time to dry out and crack. And even if the sheets do crack, the good news is that they’re relatively forgiving. Regardless, because the sheets are ultimately stacked, the final product will look perfect no matter what.
- Phyllo is sold frozen, but if you plan on making chicken strudel, you should thaw the phyllo in the refrigerator overnight.
- When I prepare this for company, I assemble it 1-2 hours before baking, cover it well with plastic wrap, then uncover and bake it immediately before serving. This advanced assembly makes it the perfect dish for those dinner parties when you’d rather be socializing with guests than toiling away in the kitchen.
- When I first made this recipe 25 years ago, phyllo came in large sheets measuring 12”x17”. Since then, many companies have reduced their sheet sizes to 14”x 9”. I’ve found that when I slightly overlap these smaller sheets, I can make them measure 14”x18” (see photo below).
Adapted from a Good Housekeeping recipe I ripped from a magazine 25 years ago
Serves 6-8 Main Course Servings
1 pound cubed white meat chicken from 2 boneless breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ sticks butter (12 tablespoons) - 6 ounces - divided
1 large onion (~12 ounces) - peeled and chopped
20 ounces frozen chopped spinach - thawed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup white wine
7 ounces muenster cheese - grated - 2½ cups
1 ounce Parmigiano Reggiano cheese - grated
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 egg - lightly beaten
¼ pound phyllo leaves (ten 12”x17” leaves or twenty 12”x 9” leaves) - thawed overnight in the refrigerator
~¾ cup panko bread crumbs
Lightly salt the cubed chicken. In a large skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter, cook the cubed chicken until just done. I prefer sautéing the chicken slowly over moderate heat rather than high heat, as I want mine to be more tender than browned. Remove chicken to a plate. In the same skillet, add another tablespoon of olive oil and tablespoon of butter. Sauté chopped onion over medium heat until tender. In a colander, squeeze thawed spinach to remove as much excess liquid as possible. Add the drained spinach to the softened onions, along with salt and pepper. Stir and cook for another minute or two. Add Dijon mustard and ¼ cup white wine. Cook 2-3 additional minutes, add chicken from plate and then remove from heat. Add grated muenster and Parmigiano cheese and combine well. Add beaten egg, stir, and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a small saucepan, melt remaining (10 tablespoons) butter. Skim off and discard foam, avoiding the milk solids that settle on the bottom of the pan. Place one 12”x17” sheet of phyllo dough on the counter (I like to work on a large piece of parchment paper, but it isn’t necessary), and lightly brush/dab with butter (if using the smaller sheets of phyllo, slightly overlap to form a 14”x18” rectangle). Sprinkle ~ 1½ tablespoons of panko bread crumbs evenly over entire surface of phyllo. Continue stacking phyllo sheets, dabbing/brushing with butter and then sprinkling with breadcrumbs until you have 5 layers of phyllo. Spread one half of the chicken/spinach filling along one short end. Roll up the phyllo, encasing the chicken filling in the middle. Transfer to a parchment lined (or lightly oiled) half sheet pan or cookie sheet. Brush the top with remaining melted butter. Repeat with remaining phyllo and chicken/spinach mixture. With a sharp knife, score logs diagonally, leaving 2" between each score (see picture—this allows the phyllo to rise and flake). Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown and delicious.