Saturday, August 2, 2014

Goat Cheese and Chorizo Rolls

Last Year's Post: Healthy Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs
Two Years Ago:  The Best Salsa Ever

Goat cheese and chorizo are one of those magical combinations where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, like tomatoes and basil - the spicy, meaty chorizo is perfectly offset by the creamy goat cheese.  Add in crisp phyllo dough and you have a great little pop-in-your-mouth appetizer.  I debated serving the rolls with a plum sauce or salsa verde on the side - you certainly could - but in the end decided to forego a sauce to let the chorizo and goat cheese flavors shine.  Having said that, I might serve some sort of chile sauce with them next time for the people who like a lot of spice, since the rolls aren't particularly spicy on their own.

True confessions - these rolls are a little fussy to make, as is anything made with phyllo.  But once you set aside  the 30 minutes or so required for assembly, it's a simple matter to bake them until beautifully brown. They can be baked several hours in advance because they're equally great served slightly warm or at room temperature.  Just don't refrigerate them after baking or the phyllo will soften and you'll lose the textural contrast between the creamy filling and the crisp shell.  (They can also be made in advance and refrigerated or frozen prior to baking.)

Phyllo is one of those things that people find very impressive and think a normal person can't work with, as in "you actually MADE those?", but nothing could be further from the truth.  You just have to know a few tricks.  Phyllo dough is very thin and dries out fast, so you need to keep the stack covered with a damp towel.  Treat the individual sheets gently when brushing them with butter and don't worry if a sheet cracks or tears because you'll be stacking and rolling multiple sheets together.  If one tears really badly just toss it because there are jillions in a box.  And above all, remember that a little butter fixes everything.

First you make a simple filling from cooked and cooled Mexican chorizo, goat cheese, and chives.  Mexican chorizo is different from Spanish chorizo primarily in texture - it's the soft version that looks kind of like bulk Italian sausage.  Spanish chorizo is a cured sausage that looks like a stick of pepperoni.  If you can't find Mexican chorizo you could substitute finely chopped Spanish chorizo in its place.  Since Mexican chorizo is raw, it needs to be cooked, cooled and chopped fairly fine before adding it to the goat cheese and minced chives for the filling.

After making the filling, it's time to butter and stack the phyllo sheets.  The original recipe called for 16"x12" sheets, but my phyllo was 8"x12".  It works out the same in the end but you can only get half the amount of rolls per stack with the smaller sheets so it was a little more work.  Basically you stack and butter three sheets of phyllo at a time, then cut the stack into 4" by 8" rectangles.  Place some filling on the short end, fold in the sides and roll up.  Each finished roll is placed on a baking sheets seam-side-down and brushed with butter before repeating with the next stack until you have 18 rolls.  It's a little messy but the butter makes your hands nice and soft.

You can tell I wasn't too concerned about having each stack cut precisely 4" wide - they came out slightly shorter or longer - but who cares?  It's artisan, as The Lawyer would say. They bake up beautifully brown and are an impressive, unique and delicious bar snack, appetizer, or small plate for a tapas party.

printable recipe
Goat Cheese and Chorizo Rolls
Makes 18 rolls

8 ounces soft plain goat cheese, left at room temperature for 1 hour
1 cup (8 ounces) Mexican chorizo, cooked and chopped into small pieces
1 ½ tablespoons minced chives
Salt and pepper
9 - 12"x16" phyllo sheets (or 18 - 12"x8" sheets)
1 stick of butter, melted

In a bowl, blend the goat cheese, chorizo, and chives; season with salt and pepper.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unroll the stack of phyllo sheets and cover with a lightly dampened kitchen towel.  Remove one phyllo sheet (covering the rest with the towel to keep moist) and place on a board.  Brush lightly with melted butter.  Top with two more phyllo sheets, buttering each lightly.  Cut the 12"x16" phyllo sheets into 6 (8"x4”) rectangles or the 12"x8" sheets into 3 (8"x4”) rectangles.  Place a tablespoon of filling at the short end of each rectangle and roll up, folding in the sides.  Set the rolls seam-side down on the baking sheet and brush with melted butter.  Repeat twice more (if using larger phyllo sheets) or five times more (if using smaller sheets) to make 18 rolls total.

Bake at 400d for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving, or serve at room temperature.  Once baked, keep the rolls at room temperature (do not refrigerate) and serve within a few hours to keep the phyllo crisp.

Note:  the rolls may be made in advance and refrigerated or frozen.  If frozen, thawing prior to baking will yield the best results.  A few minutes additional minutes of baking time may be needed.  

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