Tunisian Brik Breakfast Pastry

Brik is a very thin, brittle pastry that shatters with each bite. It's used in Tunisian cooking, and here, is the base for a breakfast pastry stuffed with egg, potato, roasted fennel, and creamy, salty feta. Brik is easy to make, but if you prefer, you can swap in two sheets of frozen phyllo dough that have been thawed and brushed with olive oil before being layered together (phyllo will brown a little faster than homemade pastry). Fry these pastries in batches so the brik doesn't get soggy and tear. Using cold eggs is the secret to the yolks remaining runny after cooking; warmer eggs will yield a firmer yolk. The green harissa served alongside is herby, spicy, and bright; serve any leftover harissa with eggs, grilled meats, or on a sandwich.

Tunisian Brik Breakfast Pastry
Photo: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen
Active Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Servings:
6

Ingredients

Green Harissa

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds

  • 1 ½ teaspoons coriander seeds

  • 1 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • ½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves and stems

  • 2 medium (2 1/2 ounce total) jalapeño chiles, stemmed and roughly chopped

  • 3 medium (1 1/4 ounce total) scallions (about 1/3 cup)

  • 2 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped

  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Filling

  • 8 ounces baby gold potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices

  • 1 cup chopped fennel (from 1 small bulb), plus 1 tablespoon chopped fronds, divided

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Brik

  • 1 ¼ cups (about 5 3/8 ounces) all-purpose flour

  • 3 tablespoons fine semolina flour

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for brushing and frying

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 6 large eggs, cold

Directions

Prepare the Green Harissa:

  1. Toast cumin and coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium, stirring often, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a food processor. Add parsley, cilantro, jalapeños, scallions, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and salt to food processor. Pulse until mixture is finely chopped, about 8 pulses, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. With food processor running, gradually drizzle in oil. Process until mixture is well combined and mostly smooth, about 15 seconds. Season to taste with additional salt. Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use or up to 1 day.

Prepare the Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss together potatoes, fennel, oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet. Spread in an even layer. Bake in preheated oven until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl; let cool 10 minutes. Stir in feta, parsley, and fennel fronds. Set aside.

Prepare the Brik:

  1. While Filling bakes, place flour, semolina, 1 cup water, oil, and salt in a blender. Process until smooth, about 15 seconds. Set aside. Fill a large pot with water to a depth of 2 inches; bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer; place a 12-inch nonstick skillet on top of the pot of water. Very lightly grease skillet with oil, and rub with a paper towel to distribute. Using a pastry brush with natural bristles, quickly brush about 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture in a thin layer over bottom of skillet. Cook until pastry is matte all over and edges release from skillet, 1 minute, 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Carefully peel up pastry using the lifted edge, and place on a clean dish towel. Using a second pastry brush, lightly coat top of cooked pastry with oil; cover with a clean dish towel. Repeat process (no need to grease skillet again) with 2 tablespoons batter at a time to form 12 pastry sheets total, brushing each sheet with oil before stacking between towels to prevent from sticking and drying out. Discard any remaining batter.

  2. Transfer 2 pastry sheets to a clean work surface, and stack on top of each other. Keep remaining sheets covered. Fold pastry sides in to form a 6-inch square. Place about 1/4 cup Filling on 1 diagonal half of the pastry, leaving a 3/4-inch border around the edge. Form a 1 1/2-inch well in the center, and crack 1 egg into the well. It's OK if some of the egg white spills out; just wipe away with a paper towel. Sprinkle egg lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Fold empty pastry half over the egg, being careful not to break the yolk. Firmly press pastry edges together to seal and form a triangle. Repeat process with 2 pastry sheets, 1/4 cup Filling, and 1 egg to form a second triangle.

  3. Pour oil into a large cast-iron skillet to a depth of 1/2 inch; heat over medium-high to 375°F. Fry pastries, 2 at a time, until golden and crisp, 1 minute, 30 seconds to 2 minutes per side. Using a fish spatula, transfer pastries to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain.

  4. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 with remaining 8 pastry sheets, Filling, and 4 eggs, adjusting temperature under skillet as needed to maintain oil temperature of 375°F. Serve hot alongside Green Harissa.

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