Dinner Rush! Chicken Briks with Couscous + Fennel

Let’s come right out and say it — there’s a lot happening in this week’s Dinner Rush! It’s got a funky name, lots of cool ingredients going on and seriously — less than 20 minutes? Your eyes do not deceive you, my friends; it’s all true, thanks to a brik.

Briks are a North African pastry traditionally served as a meal or a street food-style snack. They come filled with things like fish, eggs or meat, and are often made with a heavy dose of spices and fresh herbs, like much North African cooking. Earthy seasonings like cinnamon and cumin balance the bright flavors of cilantro and lemon, reinforcing that “spring-is-on-the-way” mindset.

This meal is super quick to make at home and is an easy and flavorful way to shake up the weeknight dinner routine. The ingredients are likely ones you already have on hand, just combined in a different way. It’s a perfect opportunity for experimenting, too — swap out the chicken for hard-boiled eggs or crab (or beans and hearty greens if you’re going vegan), add some toasted nuts to the couscous or make mini briks for a party snack.

Chicken Briks with Couscous + Fennel
Total Time: 16 min
Prep: 8 min
Cook: 8 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy
For the couscous:
1/2 cup tomato juice or puree
1 cup couscous
1/2 cup golden raisins
Salt and ground black pepper
1/2 bulb fennel, grated
1/2 small bunch fresh mint (about 1/2 cup leaves), chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
For the briks:
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 small bunch cilantro, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1-inch knob ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 teaspoons chile paste, such as harissa
Salt and ground black pepper
Eight 13-inch by 9-inch sheets phyllo dough, defrosted if frozen
2 tablespoons olive oil
Low-fat plain yogurt, for serving (optional)

To prepare the couscous, bring the tomato juice or puree and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Pour the liquid over the couscous in a mixing bowl and add the raisins. Cover the bowl and let the couscous sit for 5 minutes.

While the couscous is readying, prepare the briks. In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken, lemon zest and juice, scallions, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, ginger and chile paste; season with salt and pepper. Lay two sheets of phyllo dough on a work surface with the short side facing you. Place one quarter of the briks filling at the edge closest to you, shaping it into a rectangle and leaving a 1-inch border around the sides and bottom. Fold in the edges of the phyllo and then enclose the filling in the dough by folding the dough over itself for form a small rectangular pouch. Repeat with the remaining dough sheets and filling.

Place a large saute pan over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Add the briks to the pan seam-side down and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Gently flip the briks and cook until the other side is golden brown and the filling is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more.

While the briks are cooking, fluff the couscous with a fork and season it with salt and pepper. Turn the couscous out onto a serving plate. To the same mixing bowl add the fennel, mint, lemon juice, olive oil and some salt and pepper. Toss to combine and arrange over the couscous.

Serve the briks warm with the couscous and a dollop of yogurt.

Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Marc Forgione and Bobby Deen, he now works on digital production for FoodNetwork.com, CookingChannelTV.com and Food.com in NYC by day and develops recipes at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following him on Twitter & Instagram at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.

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