This idea came to me as I was thinking about recipes I’d made at school. My practical exam for Food Service Fundamentals included phyllo wrapped, stuffed chicken. At the time, I really hated the recipe. Phyllo is tricky stuff at times and I was NOT happy I had to deal with it under pressure.
But looking back on that recipe, it was kind of neat. The phyllo dough helped make what would otherwise be a boring piece of stuffed chicken into something that looked fancy — and gave it quite a delightful crunch. I started thinking what else could I make using that technique and came up with this recipe.
I brought these to poker on Saturday night and everyone liked them, so I’d say this one is a keeper. It *is* a little time consuming to make — but if you’ve got some time and want to WOW people, give it a try.
A hint for working with phyllo*: when you’re not actively using it, keep it under plastic wrap covered with a damp tea-towel. And just have some patience. Luckily, phyllo isn’t expensive, so if you happen to rip a sheet (and you will!) don’t worry too much.
Herb and Feta Phyllo Wrapped Shrimp
1 lb. large (26-30/pound) raw, easy-peel, shrimp
1 small bunch Italian (flat leaf) parsley leaves, chopped fine
1 small bunch chives, chopped fine
Zest of two lemons
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled fine
1 package, phyllo dough, thawed
1 stick butter, melted
salt and pepper, to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
To prepare your shrimp, peel the shrimp, but keep the tail part of the shell on (like you’d see for shrimp cocktail.) Then, cut each shrimp up the center through the middle vein up to the tail shell. The tail shell will keep the two pieces of shrimp together, but the shrimp will be able to lie flat (instead of curving like they do naturally.)
Place the shrimp in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Combine parsley, chives, lemon zest, and feta cheese in a bowl. Set aside.
Phyllo dough comes wrapped in a plastic bag. Inside the plastic bag, the dough is wrapped in another piece of plastic. Remove the phyllo from the first plastic bag. Use a sharp knife to cut the phyllo dough into three equal lengths through the second layer of plastic.
Unroll one section of dough and keep the others back in the plastic bag inside the fridge until you need them. Cover the phyllo that you are using with plastic wrap and a damp tea towel.
Carefully, lie one sheet of phyllo on the counter. Gently brush with melted butter. Place another piece of phyllo on top of the first. Brush this one with melted butter.
Sprinkle evenly with the herb and feta mixture. You will only need about two tablespoons — too much mixture and it will be hard to roll the shrimp into the phyllo at the end. Cover with a third piece of phyllo and gently pat down over the feta mixture. Brush the third layer with butter and place a fourth, and final, layer of phyllo. Brush with butter.
To recap, you’ll use: phyllo, butter, phyllo, butter, herb mixture, phyllo, butter, phyllo, butter.
Cut the strip of layered phyllo in half. Place a shrimp on the edge of each piece of phyllo. Roll each shrimp up gently and tightly forming what will look like a little cigar with the tail end of the shrimp sticking out one end. Brush the outside of each roll with butter and use the butter to help seal the seam.
Place on a rack that’s placed on top of a sheet pan or cookie sheet.
Repeat with the rest of the phyllo, herbs, and shrimp.
Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until the phyllo browns nicely and the shrimp are cooked.
* The Athen’s site has a lot of great information on phyllo including these tips on how to work with phyllo.