A crisp and golden brown saffron biscuit roll stuffed with a mixture of saffron chicken and roasted red peppers, simmered in pomegranate juice, and layered with Kefalotyri cheese, pistachios and cilantro.
With the spring-time thrumming of the crocus, enticing me to the more beautiful life that is budding and bursting into bloom all around me, there also comes the thrumming of spring-time dining, with menus that tempt me to try new flavours. One genus of the crocus is more than just a beautiful flower; it is also the source of saffron, treasured as a spice and also for its medicinal qualities. This week, I decided to explore the wonders of saffron in my own kitchen. I have enjoyed so many wonderful dishes that feature saffron, including a saffron rice dish with prawns and mussels, a warm salad featuring roasted peppers with saffron and Nicoise olives and fresh cod, and a Persian-style roasted chicken with saffron sauce. Today, I share with you my own personal creation, my “Saffron Chicken & Roasted Pepper Roll”.
- To roast the peppers follow my directions for making Roasted Red Peppers, here. Slice or tear the peppers length-wise into 1/2-inch strips. Place in a bowl and set aside.
- Pour the milk for the biscuit dough into a pan and stir in 1/8 tsp saffron threads. Warm the milk over low heat until it steams, but do not let it boil. Remove the steaming milk from the heat and set aside to cool while you prepare the filling.
- Pour the undiluted chicken broth into a small bowl and stir in 1 tsp of saffron. Set aside.
- Pour olive oil into a large, wide skillet and set over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion softens, stirring often, about 3-4 mins.
- Add chicken pieces, roasted peppers (with juices collected in the bowl) and paprika. Stir. Add saffron-infused chicken stock, pomegranate juice and cinnamon stick.
- Increase heat to high, bringing mixture to a steady boil. Scrape up and stir in the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil uncovered, stirring often, until mixture is reduced and thickened, about 15 mins.
- Whisk egg yolk in small bowl. Vigorously stir about 3 tablespoons of the hot juice from the chicken mixture into egg yolk. Immediately blend egg mixture into chicken mixture, and cook another 2-3 mins, stirring briskly. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool while you prepare the biscuit dough.
- Set oven temperature to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the saffron-infused milk into the centre. Mix well, until the dough forms a ball and cleans the flour from the sides of the bowl. Turn the biscuit dough out of the bowl and onto a lightly floured surface.
- Roll the biscuit dough into rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle the dough rectangle first with the cheese, then the pistachios, followed by the cilantro.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove some the chicken mixture (about 3 cups) from the juices in the pan and spread it onto the rectangle of biscuit dough, enough to cover the layers of cheese, nuts and cilantro.
- Starting with the long edge of the biscuit dough, roll the rectangle into a log shape. Pinch the long edge closed, making a seam by pinching the dough together with your fingers. Pinch the ends together, to seal them closed. Carefully transfer the roll, seam side down, onto a baking sheet.
- Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 mins, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and place pan on a rack to cool slightly, for about 5 mins. Slice into pinwheel-shaped slices and serve with any remaining chicken mixture scooped onto the top of the slices. Sprinkle with additional chopped pistachio nuts and fresh cilantro leaves, if desired.