Christmas Crackers

By Angela Denstad Stigeler

Chips, crisps, crackers, biscuits—all of these terms change a bit across the big pond, otherwise known as the Atlantic. British chips become French fries; crisps, then, are our potato chips; British biscuits are firm cookies to accompany tea; and in England, at Christmas, crackers are festive paper tubes twisted at both ends that pop when you pull them apart to reveal small gifts, party hats and a corny joke or two.

This dinner version of Christmas crackers pops with flavor, is filled with tasty, healthy ingredients, and crackles with crisp filo pastry. Equally festive for Christmas dinner, Boxing Day, New Year’s eve, or any of the other twelve days of Christmas, they’re sure to please diners big and small, whatever their cultural traditions.

 

Chicken Christmas Crackers

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, halved and sliced

4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 cubes

8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced

6 dried porcini mushrooms (optional)

2-3 cups of broccoli florets, small

1 cup of chicken stock

¾ cup crème fraiche or sour cream

1 pinch of sea salt

1 pinch of black pepper

16 filo pastry sheets

6 tablespoons butter, melted

Sauce

¾ cup crème fraiche, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

½ teaspoon of smoked paprika

2 teaspoon of chopped chives

 

Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the onions and stir until soft and golden. Then, stir in the chicken and cook until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and chicken stock and reduce until the pan is almost dry. Stir in the crème fraiche or sour cream and then season to taste. Transfer this mixture to a bowl and allow to cool. Once cool, store in the refrigerator until cold and set. At least 20 minutes or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay a double layer of filo pastry on a work surface. Brush half of the sheet with butter and fold over to create a square. Repeat with the remaining filo to make 8 double-layered squares. Divide the chicken mixture into 8 portions, shaping each into a cylinder. Place a cylinder of the chicken mixture on each square of pastry, fold the edge into the filling and roll to make a cylinder. Just before getting to the opposite edge, brush with melted butter to seal. Twist the ends of the pastry to make it look like a Christmas cracker. Brush each cracker lightly with melted butter and place on a non-stick baking tray. Repeat to make more crackers. Bake the crackers in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, fold the paprika and chives into the crème fraiche, sour cream or yogurt to make the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Once the crackers are cooked, remove and serve with a dollop of sauce on the side.

 

Adapted from British Chef Alyn Williams.

 

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