Chicken Baked in Bread Parcel

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The current wave of Middle Eastern Food at Meeta´s blog has driven me crazy. My craving for some kebab, dips, sweets and Middle Eastern breads just goes up like a rocket. I will play truant tomorrow to visit my favorite bakery (A1) in Brunswick for great Lebanese breads and some Turkish coffee. But for now, let me challenge and entertain myself with some home made food.

I have wanted to make this particular dish for a long time. It appears in a superb cookbook called Saha by Greg & Lucy Malouf. Greg Malouf is the top Middle Eastern chef in Australia, and he has successfully brought modern Middle Eastern cuisine to Australian food fare. Anyway, the dish requires the chicken to be baked with spinach and chickpeas in mountain bread (pic above). As you see the bread is soft, thin and really delicate. I was afraid that baking chicken in it would make the bread soggy… But I was wrong. After baking, the top layer of the bread was crispy, but the part in touch with the chicken was really smooth and silky. It was incredible, I was amazed!

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This is how the dish appears at the table. The paper bag of bread and chicken is served along side with spinach and chickpea stew. You really need to get messy with your hands to enjoy the dish. Open up the paper layer (used to form the bag), then the bread, and here it is, the chicken sitting inside – moist, spicy and flavorsome…

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Chicken Baked in Bread Parcel

Adapted from recipe by Greg Malouf

Ingredients (serve 3-4)

1 package of mountain breads (mine has about 10 medium pieces)

Chicken Marinade

About 4-5 pieces of chicken thigh cut into cubes

2 cloves garlic

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp sumac (*)

Chili powder, to taste

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

Stew Mixture

40ml olive oil

2 onions, finelt grated

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 ½ tsp ground sumac

2 bunches of spinach leaves, blanched, squeezed and chopped

300 ml good-quality chicken stock

150g cooked chickpea (from 1 can)

Juice of ½ lemon

150g roasted pine nuts

Salt & Pepper

Extra-virgin Olive Oil

Method

Marinade the chicken for 1-2 hours.

For the stew, sauté onions & garlic with oil until soft. Add spices and stir well. Add the chopped spinach to the pan, then the chickpeas. Use a fork to slightly crush the chickpeas (I didn´t do this), then add half of the stock. Turn up the heat & boil for 5 mins, or until the stock has evaporated. Remove from the heat, add lemon juice and pine nuts. Leave to cool.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Cut pieces of baking paper roughly 3 cm (1¼ inch) larger than the squares of mountain bread. Lay them on the work surface and place the bread on top. Spoon a dollop of spinach mixture onto the centre of each piece of bread and place some chicken on top.

Gather the edges of the paper and bread together above the chicken and tie with kitchen string so you have a little bag. Place on a baking tray and cover with foil to stop the paper getting crisp and the string from burning. Cook for 20 mins. Carefully open one bag and check if the chicken is cooked. Cook for 10 mins more if necessary.

Meanwhile, tip the remaining spinach mixture into a pot with the remaining chicken stock. Add a splash of extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 mins on gentle heat.

Present individual parcels for each person to unwrap at the table. Serve with bowls of spinach stew.

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***

Sumac is a red spice mix that is used for its tangy taste. Available at Middle Eastern Stores.

Mountain Bread: a type of flatbread that is soft and thin like tortilla. It is available in most supermarkets in Australia under this brand name.

16 Responses to Chicken Baked in Bread Parcel

  1. joey says:

    This looks fantastic! Great flavors and presentation :) A friend of mine who has worked in Saudi Arabia has been trying to recreate a dish she there that she describes as “roast chicken wrapped in very thin bread”…this may be it! Except the version she had was a whole chicen. I will pass this on to her nevertheless :) If we can’t find mountain bread here would you know of a substitute? Do

  2. Ellie says:

    Nice photography! This looks like quite an interesting dish, though I may have to wait till my dinner party next month to make it, as my family of fussy eaters may be nervous around the cumin and sumac :(

  3. Asha says:

    Chapathi!!:)) We make similar in India,veg or non-veg filling rolled in Chapatis(thin wheat bread like Tortilla) and it’s called Kathi rolls.

  4. Patricia Scarpin says:

    Anh, I was immediately interested in this recipe the minute I saw the title!

  5. Susan says:

    This dish must have smelled divine with the medley of spices you used. Your photos as always are inspirational.

  6. Freya and Paul says:

    This is such a great idea! Looks wonderful! Another cookbook to add to my list!

  7. Angie says:

    This is such a fascinating dish! I’ve never seen mountain bread, thanks for showing how it looks like!

  8. Rose says:

    What a great presentation. I have never seen something like this before. A thin bread with chicken inside. That might be delicious.

  9. Amanda says:

    This sounds like a great dinner party dish – it would certainly be a conversation starter, not to mention delicious!

  10. Gattina says:

    what an excellent way to enjoy bread/chicken/stew!!! That bread really sounds amasing, oh gosh, where I can find them here?!?!?!?!! *extremely desperated*

  11. Anh says:

    Joey, the actual recipe calls for chicken maryland (boned left in). It uses huge mountain bread pieces, which I couldn’t buy easily. Thus, I used chicken pieces instead. I think you can use phyllo, not sure if it will yield the same texture, but it seems the closest substitute. If you can find the home-made phyllo, it’s better. The home-made phyllo carried by the Greeks in my area is thicker than

  12. Cheryl says:

    Not only does this look simply delicious but you take the most amazing pictures.

  13. Sandeepa says:

    Such a beautiful dish. I like the way its presented.

  14. Andrew says:

    Not quite what we had in mind for Waiter but thanks for the entry anyway. Really very interesting!

  15. Bellini Valli says:

    I have been searching for interesting chicken dishes. A person gets tired of the same old thing. We eat with our senses and this would hit my visual senses first.

  16. Jeena says:

    This is very nice, it would be a great recipe for a dinner party, lovely.

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