Monday, February 1, 2016

Lamb and Phyllo Cigars

First of all - a PSA - tomorrow is Candelmas / Groundhog Day - don't forget to make your crepes!

In the Food Section of the Washington Post on January 20, I spotted this recipe.  I might need to work on getting these to the Launchpad table.  Hey I now own a deep fat fryer!

Lamb and Phyllo Cigars
"Frying phyllo almost guarantees a shatteringly crisp crunch; the payoff here is split between the spiced, savory lamb­ and ­pine­nut filling and the sumac­ mint yogurt dipping sauce. You'll need an instant­ read thermometer for monitoring the oil."

Make Ahead: The dipping sauce (without the pomegranate molasses drizzle) can be refrigerated up to 1 day in advance.
SERVINGS: 7 servings, makes 21 cigars


  • 1 cup plain low­fat Greek­style yogurt 
  • 2 tablespoons low­fat milk 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
  • 6 fresh mint leaves, stacked, rolled and cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade) 
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • Pomegranate molasses, for drizzling
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper 
  • 1 pound ground lamb 
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses 
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts 
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat­leaf parsley or cilantro 
  • Peanut or canola oil, for frying 
  • 7 sheets phyllo dough (14 by 18 inches), defrosted 1 large egg, beaten

For the dip: Whisk together the yogurt, milk, lemon juice, mint, sumac and salt in a medium bowl until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (and up to 1 day). 

For the cigars: Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium­high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring several times, until it’s lightly golden.

Add the garlic to the skillet, then the salt, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg and cayenne pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the lamb, breaking it up with your fingers as you go. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the lamb loses its raw look and the spices are evenly distributed. 

Clear a spot at the center of the pan; add the tomato paste and spread it a bit; cook for 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the pomegranate molasses, pine nuts and the parsley or cilantro, and stir to combine. 

Pour about 3 inches of peanut or canola oil into a deep saute pan; heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Seat a wire cooling rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.

Meanwhile, unroll the phyllo sheets and stack them; cover with damp paper towels. Place one sheet of the phyllo on a clean work surface and coat it with a light application of olive oil cooking spray (or brush lightly with olive oil). Repeat this step to build and coat a second layer. 

Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the sheets in half lengthwise, then cut each of those halves horizontally into 3 rectangles of equal size, so you have 6 rectangles total. 

Use the beaten egg to brush three edges of each phyllo rectangle, leaving one long side plain. Spoon a tablespoon of the lamb mixture an inch inside the unbrushed edge, in a line parallel to the edge, leaving a 1/2 ­inch margin at either end. Roll the dough over the filling, tightly. Once it's rolled, use your fingers to gently push and fold in the sides of the roll. Keep the cigars covered with a damp paper towel. Repeat to use all but 3 tablespoons of the filling, forming 18 cigars.

Spray/brush the last of the phyllo sheets with oil, then fold it in half lengthwise; cut the fold, then cut the folded phyllo into 3 equal rectangles. Repeat the egg­wash, filling, rolling, sealing, spraying and covering steps, so you have a total of 21 cigars. Check to make sure the seams of the phyllo are tightly sealed; if not, brush with more of the egg. (Discard any leftover egg after you're finished frying.) 

Working in batches, gently drop the cigars into the hot oil; fry the cigars for about 3 minutes, turning so they’re evenly and lightly browned. Use tongs to transfer them to the wire rack to cool. (If the cigars open a bit along the seam, you can cut or pinch off that bit.)

Just before serving, drizzle some pomegranate molasses over the dipping sauce. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the sauce.

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