Before there were hot pockets, there was kotopita! Greek chicken and phyllo pockets that are crispy, creamy, and delicious.
Kotopita is a Greek-style chicken pie that’s sold in every cafe all over Greece. It’s a great way to use up leftover chicken or even turkey. The chicken combined with the creamy béchamel sauce and the flaky, crisp phyllo is SO good! The best part about these is that can be assembled and stored in the freezer for months!
Let’s go over the ingredients:
- 1-pound (#10) country-style phyllo, at room temperature
- Melted butter
- sesame seeds
- diced or shredded cooked chicken
- feta cheese
- shredded mozzarella cheese
For the béchamel Sauce:
- olive oil
- small onion
- grated garlic cloves
- red bell pepper
- all-purpose flour
- whole milk
- freshly cracked black pepper
- crushed red pepper flakes
- ground nutmeg
My favorite cut of chicken to use is thighs. I buy boneless skinless thighs for most of my recipes because they’re juicy and it seems like it’s difficult to overcook them. If I have any leftover chicken or turkey in the refrigerator, I use it. If not, just season some chicken thighs with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, then roast in a 450 oven until they reach a temp of 165. It’s about 30-45 minutes. Let them come to room temperature before you start on your Kotopita.
I like to use shredded mozzarella, but you can use any shredded cheese you like. Gouda, cheddar or any cheese that melts well would be good. After the cheese is melted, add a little of your béchamel sauce to your beaten eggs. This will raise the temperature of the eggs before adding them to the hot sauce and keep the sauce nice and creamy.
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Can you use regular phyllo for Greek chicken pockets?
Yes. Country phyllo is a little thicker. To me, it’s the perfect thickness. However, these chicken phyllo pies can be made with regular (#4) phyllo. Just substitute 2-3 layers to create each parcel. If you don’t see a number on the box, then it’s probably regular #4 phyllo because it’s the most commonly used.
Remember to put your phyllo in the refrigerator the night before to thaw. Then, pull it out at least an hour before you’re ready to use it.
Kotopita can be made into small appetizer triangles (like the spanakopita and tiropitakia recipes), large triangular pockets, or rectangular pockets. The rectangular ones are the ones that they sell in Greece.
Can you Freeze Kotopita?
To make these ahead, assemble the pastries and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, brush with butter, and sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds, if desired. Place the tray in the freezer and chill the pastries until frozen. Then, remove the tray, wrap with plastic wrap, and return to the freezer. They will stay fresh for up to 3 months.
When ready to bake, cover the tray with foil and bake from frozen at 350°F for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until golden. About 20-25 minutes more.
No matter if you bake them right after making or from frozen, they are done when the phyllo is golden brown.
How to serve Greek chicken phyllo pockets?
After you remove the kotopita from the oven, let them sit for about 15 minutes to cool. It’s just the right amount of time to make my Fall cabbage salad. It pares perfectly with the pockets and makes the perfect balanced meal.
- 1-pound (#10) country-style phyllo, at room temperature
- ¾ -pound butter, melted
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 1 ½ pounds cooked chicken, diced or shredded
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
For the Bechamel Sauce:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F, 180 °C.
- Make the Bechamel:
- Combine the onion with the oil in a pot over medium heat and cook until soft and golden. About 6 minutes.
- Add the bell pepper and cook 4-5 minutes or until tender.
- Add the garlic and warm through 30 seconds.
- Add the flour and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until toasted. Stir often so that it does not burn.
- Add the milk, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg. Continue to mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the chicken, the feta and mozzarella cheese and mix to combine.
- Taste and adjust seasoning by adding more salt and pepper if needed.
- Whisk the 2 eggs together in a bowl and add some of the hot cream to them to temper the mixture. Add the eggs to the pot and mix until combined. Set aside.
- To create the triangles, Take a sheet of phyllo and place it on a clean work surface. Drizzle some butter on half of the phyllo and fold over. Place ¼ cup of the chicken filling on the bottom of the phyllo and fold up flag-style. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- To create the rectangles, drizzle some melted butter over a sheet of phyllo and place ½ cup of the chicken filling in the center of the phyllo. Fold the long sides over the phyllo (left and right).
- Fold the bottom part of the phyllo over the filling and roll upwards to create a rectangle. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and continue to create the chicken pockets.
- Brush the tops with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
- Set aside to rest for 10 minutes and serve with a salad. Enjoy!
If you’re not using leftover chicken and would like to roast chicken, place the chicken (my favorite is boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat) on a baking tray and drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons oil on top. Season both sides with salt and black pepper and roast at 425 °F until the internal temperature reaches 165 °F. These can be made with regular (#4) phyllo but, 2-3 layers should be used to create each parcel. Drizzle butter between each layer. These can be made into small appetizer triangles such as the spanakopita and tiropitakia recipes. Use 1 tablespoon of chicken filling per appetizer pastry. To make these ahead, assemble the pastries and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, brush with butter, and sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds, if desired. Place the tray in the freezer and chill the pastries until frozen then, remove the tray and wrap with plastic wrap and return to the freezer. They will keep fresh up to 3 months. When ready to bake, cover the tray with foil and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until golden. About 20-25 minutes more.
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