Brik bi l-Batata
Region: Jewish Mediterranean, Tunisian
Category: Antipasto, Meze, Tapas, and Hors d'Oeuvres
Difficulty: Medium Difficulty
This preparation from Tunisia is said to be popular with Tunisian Jews. It is a cheese and potato stuffed phyllo-like pastry that is rolled up like a cigar, similar to the Turkish börek and is called by the Tunisian Arabic name brīk. Although this turnover is called a brīk, it doesn’t contain an egg as is typical because of the way it is turned over—it’s rolled up rather than folded, making the addition of an egg an impossibility. The turmeric turns the insides a very appetizing golden yellow and it’s hard not to just keep popping these tidbits into your mouth. Although I call for the roll-ups to be cut in half, you can cut them in quarters for bite-size pieces.
Yield: Makes 14
Preparation Time: 1 hour
1 large potato (about 3/4 pound)
1/2 pound Gruyère cheese, shredded
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons turmeric
14 Chinese egg roll wrappers, 6 inches square (7 ounces)
1 egg white, lightly beaten
6 cups olive oil or vegetable oil for frying
1. Place the whole potato in a medium-size saucepan and cover with cold water by several inches. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, about 20 minutes then continue to cook at strong simmer until a skewer glides easily to the center of the potato, about another 25 minutes. Drain, peel when cool enough to handle, and mash.
2. In a medium-size bowl, mix the potato, cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and turmeric together.
3. Arrange an egg roll wrapper in front of you and place a portion of stuffing, about 2 tablespoons, along the end nearest to you, roll it up one roll, fold the sides in, and continue rolling it up like a cigar. Seal the edges by rubbing them with egg white with your finger. Set aside as you repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. They can be frozen at this point if you like.
4. Preheat the frying oil in a deep fryer or an 8-inch saucepan fitted with a basket insert to 375ºF.
5. Fry a few of the cigars at a time, being careful not to crowd them, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a strainer and let drain on paper towels. Cut in half on the bias, arrange all the cooked cigars on a platter, and serve immediately. Let the frying oil cool completely, strain through a porous paper filter, if necessary, and save the oil for a future use.