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Bastilla

Bastilla1

Everyone loves a meat pie. All around the world… calzones, pasties, knishes, samosasgyoza, pierogis, turnovers, and empanadas. Bastilla is a Moroccan twist on the meat pie. With chicken, eggs, nuts, and cinnamon sugar, it’s a perfect dish for brunch. Crunchy, sweet, and savory all wrapped up in one.

This recipe is loosely based on this “Bastilla – Traditional Moroccan Recipe.” That’s a great starting point, with excellent pictures illustrating the technique. I use more layers of phyllo, and add salt, garlic, and cumin. Following some other recipes, I also layer the eggs and chicken separately, rather than mixing them. Because my version uses more phyllo, it also uses more butter. Once you try it out, you can adjust to your own tastes.

This dish is a crowd pleaser every time.

It’s a lot of steps, but none of them are actually that hard, so don’t be intimidated. It’s well worth the effort.

Bastilla2

Bastilla
- serves 8 -

1/2 chicken (1 whole bone-in breast and 1 leg quarter)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 cup chopped cilantro
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
kosher salt
6 eggs
1/3 pound peeled almonds
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
7 large sheets phyllo pastry dough, thawed according to directions on the package
1/2 cup melted butter

powdered sugar and cinnamon to garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Season the chicken generously with kosher salt.

3. In a deep saucepan or small pot, heat the olive oil over high heat. Brown the chicken on all sides. It takes about 3-4 minutes per side. You don’t need to cook it through, but browning adds some depth to the flavor of the chicken before you start boiling it.

4. Add the chopped onion, ginger, turmeric, pepper, cumin, cinnamon stick, cilantro and garlic to the pot, and stir to distribute the spices. Cook for a minute.

5. Add a pinch of salt and enough water to keep the chicken covered. Boil until the chicken is cooked, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the liquid to cool.

6. Strain the cooking liquid.

7. Beat the eggs with 1/3 C of the cooking liquid from the chicken. Cook over medium heat to a soft scramble, stirring occasionally. The eggs are going to continue cooking when you bake the bastilla, so you really want to stop just when they reach cooked, even if you would normally cook your eggs harder. You can save the remaining cooking liquid to use in any dish you’d use chicken stock. Substitute it for water when you’re cooking rice and you’ll have a great side dish.

8. When the chicken has cooled, remove the meat from the bones and cut it into small pieces.

9. In a clean skillet, toast the almonds for about a minute, maybe two, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally. You should see a little bit of color and be able to smell a nutty aroma.

10. Mix the almonds with the sugar and ground cinnamon, then either put the whole mix in a food processor for a few seconds to chop the nuts, or put in a zip lock bag and crush the nuts with a rolling pin or the bottom of a skillet. I like the texture better with some slightly bigger pieces, so I do the latter. But you can grind it all the way down to a coarse meal in the food processor if you prefer.

11. Melt the butter. Some recipes say to clarify it, but I don’t think it’s worth the trouble.

12. Brush the bottom of a glass or metal pie pan, or an oven-safe skillet, with melted butter. Lay one sheet of phyllo dough in the pan. The sheet will be bigger than the pan, so you’ll have a lot hanging over the sides.

13. Brush the layer of phyllo with melted butter. Place another sheet of phyllo on top, off center so that the edge of the phyllo dough is against the edge of the pan on one side, and all of the excess dough hangs over the other side of the pan. Brush with butter and repeat with another layer overhanging in the other direction. Repeat twice more so you have a total of 5 overlapping layers of phyllo on the bottom of the pan.

14. Put half of the almond mixture into the bottom of the pan. Spread half the chicken over the almonds. Then spread the eggs over the chicken. Spread the remaining chicken over the eggs. Then add the rest of the almonds on top.

15. Cover the bastilla with a full sheet of phyllo, brush with butter, and add the last sheet. Brush the top with butter and then carefully fold over all the excess dough from the bottom layers. This will eventually be the bottom of the bastilla, so it doesn’t have to look pretty!

16. Bake at 350°F until golden brown. It will probably take close to 25 minutes, but you want to start checking around 15 minutes so you don’t burn it. If you use fewer sheets of phyllo it will brown faster.

17. Remove the bastilla from oven and carefully turn it over onto a plate or into another skillet. Dust heavily with powdered sugar and sprinkle with cinnamon to decorate. Serve hot or at room temperature.

    3 Comments

    1. Jenn B. says:

      This is suuuuuuuch a great dish. Dan, you served it with Harissa with preserved lemon…that was a really delicious addition. What brand of Harissa did you use?

    2. dan says:

      I don’t know the brand of harissa off the top of my head. I got it at Whole Foods though. I’ll try to remember to check the jar when I’m home.

    3. dan says:

      Mustapha’s Moroccan Harissa. Available online at http://stores.mustaphas.com/Detail.bok?no=8

      I’m pretty sure I paid a lot less at Whole Foods. (There’s a sentence I never thought I’d hear).

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