I have to admit that I adore cooking ethnic food from other countries, but when it comes to traditional Albanian food, the one I grew up with I get sooo excited. Even though I got the recipe from my mom, my dish did not taste even nearly like my mom’s and that’s why I quited lying to myself and others that it turned just like as hers. I think this happens to everyone so I do not feel that bad ☺.
The following recipe literally can be translated in : Chicken with pastry sheets, but I think it makes more sense to be translated to Chicken in Pastry ( finding the best translation in English for traditional dishes in can be a real problem). This recipe is a traditional dish of Korça, but based on the techniques and different names it can be found even in other cities. Here I have used semi bakes dough sheets (not the phyllo type), but for best results I recommend to make your own pastry sheets.
Cooking time: 1 hour
- 1 pack of readymade pastry sheets or approx. 10 sheets if homemade *
- 1 free range chicken
- 200gr butter
For homemade pastry sheets:
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup lukewarm water (more if needed)
- 1 tsp salt
- First of all start making the pastry sheets. Sift the flour over the counter, make a hollow in the middle and add the salt. Start pouring the lukewarm water slowly starting from 3/4 cup and add more if you do not reach the desired consistency. The dough should be elastic and not stick to the touch. Set aside and cover with a wet damp cloth. Let rest for about 30 minutes
- After the dough has rested, divide it in small parts ( the size should be as an apricot). Take one ball (cover the others to prevent from drying out), sprinkle the countertop with flour and start rolling with a rolling pin as thin as you can. Don’t worry about the shape or size since we will tear the sheets in small parts. Divide the rolled sheets with a damp cloth so they won’t stick to each other.
The following steps are the same for both type of pastry sheets you are using (store-bought or homemade)
- Heat a nonstick flat pan and bake the pastry sheets (which should be folded in half) on both sides until they are slightly charred. This step is the same if you’re using semi-baked pastry sheets.
- Cover the baked pastry sheets with a damp cloth to stay warm until you finish baking all the remaining pastry sheets.
- Cut the chicken in small parts. Boil the neck and one chicken thigh in 4 cups of water. Season the remaining chicken with salt and pepper, drizzle some olive oil over it and bake until golden brown in preheated oven (250°C). Save the drippings since we will pour it over the pastry prior to baking
- Let the chicken broth simmer for about 30 minutes and season with salt. In the mean time melt the butter in a saucepan.
- Now we’ll start assembling the dish. Start drizzling some melted butter over the baking pan. Line one baked pastry sheet to cover the tray. Tear off one sheet into bite-size pieces over the pan, drizzle some butter and add some of the chicken broth. Repeat this step until all sheets are finished.
- You need to be careful when adding the broth, you should start with a little amount of broth for the first layers because the broth tends to fall to the bottom and the pastry will become soggy, slightly increasing the amount for the top layers. Use your fingers to check the dough if it’s uniformely wet. Finish with a generous drizzle of butter on the top and the drippings from the baked chicken.
- Bake the tray in 250◦C until all the broth is absorbed and the pastry is golden brown to the edges.
Eat the chicken in pastry while warm and possibly using your hands😊.