Cooler fall weather calls for a hot chili dish

September 19, 1990

These strudels are packed with chili for a delicious, make-ahead meal. Phyllo dough is easy to work with as long as you keep the unused sheets covered with a damp paper towel. This recipe makes eight strudels.

Chili Strudels

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup chopped onions

3/4 pound sausage, chopped

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 28-ounce can crushed Italian tomatoes

3 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 to 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 12-ounce package frozen chopped vegetables, such as red and green bell peppers

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

12 phyllo leaves, defrosted according to package directions

6 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine

1 cup coarsely shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Tomatoes, black olives, sliced green onions, for garnish

In large, heavy casserole, heat the oil until hot over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute them until lightly colored, about three minutes. Stir in the sausage and beef. Continue cooking until the meat is browned and crumbled, about seven minutes. Drain well.

Stir in the tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and frozen vegetables. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer over medium low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then set aside to cool. This may be done several days ahead of time.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 -inch jelly roll pan.

Place one leaf of phyllo on a clean towel with the long edge in front of you and brush lightly with melted butter. Place a second leaf on top, and brush again with butter. Top with a third leaf, do not brush with butter, and cut the stacks in half crosswise. You should have two stacks.

Spoon about three-quarters cup chili along the bottom half of each phyllo stack, leaving about a one-inch border uncovered on each side. Holding the towel corners nearest you, fold the towel up so that the phyllo rolls over on itself and covers the filling. You can do both stacks with one flip.

Turn the edges in over the filling. Continue to roll each strudel until you have a tightly-rolled cylinder. Carefully place each strudel on the greased pan, seam side down. Repeat three more times with the remaining chili and phyllo.

Brush the strudel tops with melted butter, place the pan in the middle of the preheated oven until strudels are crisp and golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes.

Immediately before serving, sprinkle cheese on top of strudels. Return the strudels to the oven until the cheese melts, about three minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, serve one strudel to each guest, placing some olives, onions and tomatoes on each plate.

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