Moroccan Chicken Pastilla

(4 Servings)

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 90 minutes
Total Time: 120 minutes / 2 hours

This sweet and savory Moroccan pie is one of the most delicious dishes I have eaten in a while. Though you add some powdered sugar and cinnamon in the recipe, this dish does not come out too sweet and the flavors are really well balanced. Traditionally, pigeon is used as a more popular ingredient over chicken. Since it wasn’t very easy to find a store that sold pigeons in NYC, I decided to go with young chicken for this recipe. When you look at the steps in the recipe you will see that its not really a tough dish to prepare. We enjoyed the pie as a tea time snack!

The name of this pie comes from the Spanish word ‘pastilla’. In Morocco it is usually referred to as bastila. The filling for this pie can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator if desired. I didn’t want to wait and made my pie and ate it immediately!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound young chicken
  • 2 small onions
  • ½ tsp ground garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough
  • 2 cups water or chicken broth
  • ½ cup blanched almonds
  • 1/4 cup clarified butter for brushing
  • Powdered sugar ½ cup
  • Salt & pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400 °F  / 205 °C.

Get all the ingredients ready. Clean and cut the young chicken, chop the parsley and roast almonds in the oven for about ten minutes till brown. Heat butter in a large pot. Braise the chicken pieces on all sides for a few minutes, then remove. Add the onions with the spices — ginger, garlic, cinnamon,  saffron.

Return the chicken to the pot, add 1/2 cup chopped parsley or cilantro, season with salt and pepper, add water or chicken broth, cover and gently simmer over low heat for about an hour. Remove the chicken.

Reduce the chicken sauce until there is almost no liquid remaining. Add the eggs to the sauce and stir constantly on low heat until you have a creamy consistency. Now remove the meat from the bones and shred it with your fingers and add to the mixture.

Take a small size cast iron skillet and brush it with melted butter. Thaw completely the frozen pastry dough in the refrigerator prior for about 24 hours and bring to room temperature before using it. The dough can be gummy if thawed too quickly outside the refrigerator. Roll out the dough thin and slowly place in the skillet so you have enough to wrap around once the filling is added.

Place a layer of the chicken mixture and then a layer of almond and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. 

Fold ends of dough over filling and brush the top with melted butter.

Place the pastilla in the oven for 10- 15 minutes, remove from oven and flip the pastilla and bake for another 15 – 20 minutes or until golden.

Place on a plate and dust with icing sugar and cinnamon before serving!

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