Mustard Seeds

Well. For a weekday, this meal was certainly a lot of work. If we had been hosting a tasting party and were making this at, say, 2.00pm on a Saturday, with big glasses of wine in hand, the task might not have seemed as onerous. But because it was a Tuesday, and because we were both already tired from work (and halfway into a bottle of red), this recipe for Moroccan-style Aggravating Chicken Phyllo Rolls of Angst with Spiced Tomato Sauce proved itself exasperating. It involved thawing, trimming, chopping, measuring, simmering, skimming, de-boning, shredding, reducing, stewing, blending, toasting, frying, buttering, sprinkling, wrapping, cutting, brushing and pressing to adhere. That is altogether too much friggin’ work for a Tuesday night.

At about ‘shredding’, Marc suggested that this was probably not something we were going to make again. I whole-heartedly agreed (I was hungry already!) and proceeded to bad-mouth the sauce which I was taking pains to carefully skim of its fat. Back and forth we went, berating this recipe for its confounded complexity until, in the end, we were shouting at the mustard seeds to “quit rolling around and adhere, dammit!” We chucked them in the oven and paced and drank until we could pronounce them ‘browned enough, sheesh’ and finally, sat down to eat. Unfortunately, they were quite good.

These fall into the appetizer category and it might seem curious that we made these for supper. Indeed, it is but we were trying to use up the extra phyllo leftover from when we made something else… hmm, I forget what. Anyway, Moroccans must really like to cook because this took two of us about two and a half hours to complete. Though, Moroccans must really like to eat because the rolls were definitely tasty. If they were served at a fête as part of an appetizer tray, I would have constantly been edging my way closer to the tray in order to score a few more before someone else got to them. The spices involved – ginger, cumin, turmeric, pepper, coriander, cinnamon, paprika – all served their purpose exceedingly well against the chicken. Phyllo, of course, is always good. The mustard seeds added their fair share of tanginess but the tomato sauce was a bit dull; I wish we would’ve added some more cayenne and/or more smoked paprika. Or better yet, if we had any of the harissa that Mom & Dad brought back from Tunisia, that would have been ideal to mix into the sauce.

All in all, I’m afraid we’ll have to make these again. *sigh* When we do, we will have to make a huge batch and freeze them thus avoiding the frequency of the episodes where we cook using nearly every dish in the kitchen. I remember my Mom working with phyllo when I was little and in my mind it stands out as being delicate company food that required a lot of work. I know why, now. I get it. I will never again capriciously wolf down phyllo treats without thinking of the hard work of the poor sucker who made them.

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