The Spice Rack

"There is no love sincerer than the love of food." Join me as I explore this love with reckless abandon. Each week try a new recipe from a different region. Read a little about each recipes' history and a lot about what it took to get it from the pages of the cookbook to the dinner table.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bastilla

Ok, today I thought I would do another of my favorite recipes, and one that I am still working to perfect.

On my first trip to Morocco I sat down at a small restaurant in Tangier with a group of friends and was served Moroccan Bastilla for a first course. This was my first introduction to this spicy pie encased in a deliciously flaky and crisp crust, which is famous in Morocco. As soon as I returned to the states I got online and hunted down a variety of bastilla recipes to try. Traditionally made with pigeon, I have been working on perfecting the chicken variety, and that is the recipe I will share here. I found the recipe intimidating at first but it really isn't all that difficult. The hardest part by far is working with the filo dough, which just takes a little practice. Make sure you thaw it correctly, or it will stick together and tear, a lesson I learned the hard way the first time I tried this recipe.

3 large bone less chicken breasts
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons tumeric
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 large cinnamon sticks
3 cups chicken stock
4 egg whites
1/3 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 package phyllo dough - thaw overnight in the refrigerator

The night before you are going to serve combine the tumeric, saffron, ginger, coriander and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan with the chicken stock. Bring to a gentle simmer and then add the chicken breast to the pan. Cover and poach the chicken in the sauce until cooked (about 10-15 minutes). Remove from heat and allow entire mixture to cool. Remove the breasts from the sauce mixture and shred in a food processor, return shredded chicken to bowl with sauce and refrigerate overnight.

The next day strain off the sauce mixture from the chicken, and remove the cinnamon sticks.
Combine about half of the sauce mixture with four egg whites and scramble. Fold mixture into the shredded chicken. This will help it stick together.

Combine the almonds, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and put to the side.

Ok, here comes the hard part. You can either make about 20 small, finger food pies out of this recipe or you can make about 10 larger pies. I prefer to make the larger pies as they are easier.

Layer three to five sheets of filo on top of one another with a little oil in between each sheet. Cut sheets into squares, the size will depend on how large you want to make your pies. Put a little of the chicken mixture in each square and top with a sprinkling of the almond mixture. Then fold over so the finished product is a triangle.

Place the triangles on a baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
When they come out sprinkle the top of each with a little more of the cinnamon and sugar mixture and enjoy!

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