Appetizers / Bake / Cook / Grill / Reviews

The Many Sides of Pig-A-Palooza and Phyllo Crisps

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Every year for the past 11 years, our friends, the Briseños put on the most incredible party – Pig-A-Palooza.  It was first conceived of when Regina said she’d like to go to a luau.  Robert decided he could roast a whole pig in his own back yard and invite friends and loved ones from near and far to bring a side dish and join in the fun.  And the rest is Pig-A-Palooza history.

As much fun as Pig-A-Palooza is to attend, with attendance of around 150 people in and out throughout the day, I know it has to be a ton of work.  In fact, I have it on good authority that Regina has a magic 20 page spreadsheet dedicated to the preparation of the event.  Robert, along with the assistance of his brother, wakes up early in the morning to start the fire and stuff and dress the pig.  The pig is stuffed with apples, herbs, celery and pineapple and “laced up” before going on the grill.  Robert also throws some sprigs of rosemary onto the grill to infuse the pig with a nice rosemary scent.  After the pig cooks for around 8 hours, it is time to serve!  This pig was procured through Gates Ranch in Vacaville.

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And, while the main event, the pig, is quite a sight in itself, the side dishes are really incredible too.  So many talented cooks show up to Pig-A-Palooza, it should be renamed Pig-Out-A-Palooza.  Appetizers, salads, beans, breads, vegetables, and lots and lots of dessert (I counted 15 different desserts this year!).  It is truly a feast of gigantic proportions.  And with so much food rolling into the house, all of the chaos could never be managed without the help of the awesome kitchen master, Karla and her assistant.  They run the kitchen like a well-oiled machine!

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This year CPM brought something we’d never tried before – Phyllo crisps.  These light and crispy “crackers” are really versatile.  While the ones we made were layered with fresh Parmesan and spices, I could see it being successful with other fillings too.  Maybe cheddar, chive and bacon or something sweeter like pumpkin pie spices and pair it with a sweet cream cheese dip.

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Phyllo Crisps

10 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted according to package (5 sheets per pan)
2 sticks unsalted butter, clarified and melted
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together Parmesan, thyme, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg.

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Lay one sheet of phyllo dough on the first cookie sheet, brush with a little clarified butter and sprinkle on a little of the parmesan mixture.  Lay down the next sheet and repeat until you have 5 sheets.  Brush top of stack with a little more butter and again sprinkle on the cheese mixture.  Repeat with the second pan.

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Place both pans in the refrigerator for around one hour to firm up the butter.  Once chilled, using a sharp knife, trim edges of the pan and score to desired size crisp.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden.  Let cool and serve with some of Amelia’s homemade ranch dressing.

Thanks so much to the Briseños for graciously sharing this amazing event with us!



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