Mushroom, chicken and cheese strudel looks impressive and elegant but is easily put together with some well-chosen deli items. Buy ready-cooked roast chicken or use up leftovers from your own chicken or turkey dinner. You can also use cooked ham chunks to make up the quantity if you have some to hand. Use one kind or a selection of mushrooms, depending on what is available. You can also use well drained canned mushrooms.
The cheese melts and acts as a glue to hold things together. If you don’t have sliced cheese, you can use mild grated cheese such as mozzarella or regatto. Don’t use processed cheese or ‘cheese food’ as it will melt away and taste horrible.
Phyllo pastry is a useful product for turning all kinds of odds and ends into impressive looking meals and stretching small amounts of food. It is the dieter’s friend as unlike pie crust, puff pastry and other traditional western pastries, it does not contain any fat or oil in itself and you have control over how much olive oil or butter you use. Olive oil makes it pliable. Melted butter or ghee makes it crispy so use whichever suits the end result that you want. It usually comes in 2 or even three grades. If you have a choice, go for the thicker one which is used for making spinach pies etcetera. It is easier to handle and less fragile than the kind used for making baklava and other Greek and Middle Eastern sweets.
2 cups boneless cooked chicken (or turkey), all skin and cartilage removed.
300 grams fresh mushrooms or one medium size can, drained.
1 large onion, peeled and cut into thin slices
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
half a teaspoon dried thyme or marjoram
grated zest of half a lemon (optional)
2 sheets of readymade strudel dough or heavy-grade phyllo pastry (usually a green package labelled as suitable for spanakopita and other savoury dishes – it is much easier to use than the fine kind in the red or purple package that is for baklava)
6 slices melting cheese such as Emmentaler
Heat a little olive oil in a heavy saucepan and cook the onions and garlic until they start to sweat and go translucent. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute until just cooked but not dried out. Tip them into a big bowl with the chicken or turkey and add the seasonings. Mix gently to combine. The poultry meat will soak up any juices from the mushrooms and onions.
Heat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade (moderately hot).
Lay one sheet of strudel dough or phyllo on a clean work surface and brush it lightly with olive oil. Lay the second sheet on top and brush once again with olive oil. Lay the slices of cheese on top. Spread the chicken and mushroom filling evenly over the cheese and then carefully roll up into a strudel shape. Transfer carefully to a sheet pan or baking sheet. Brush the top with a little melted butter. This helps to crisp it. Bake for 25 minutes to half an hour, until golden brown and the pastry has cooked through. Allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting with a very sharp knife.