Morocco

Bastilla Chicken or Pigeon Pie

Bastilla Chicken or Pigeon Pie
A Traditional Moroccan Dish

Bastilla, also known as pastilla, is a traditional Moroccan dish that is typically served during special occasions. It is a savoury pie that can be made with either chicken or pigeon meat, and it is topped with a layer of crispy, flaky pastry.

Making the Bastilla Chicken or Pigeon Pie

To make bastilla, the meat is first cooked with a blend of spices and then shredded into small pieces. The meat is then mixed with scrambled eggs, caramelized onions, and a handful of chopped almonds. The mixture is then layered

Maroccan Bastilla Pie

between sheets of filo dough, which is brushed with butter to create a crispy exterior.

Cooking the Bastilla Chicken or Pigeon Pie

Once assembled, the bastilla is baked in the oven until golden brown. Before serving, the pie is dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon, which gives it a sweet and savoury flavour.

A Dish That is Rich in Flavour and Texture

Bastilla is a dish that requires a bit of effort to prepare, but the end result is well worth it. It is a dish that is rich in flavour and texture, with the tender meat and crunchy almonds complementing each other perfectly. Whether you are celebrating a special occasion or simply want to treat yourself to something delicious, bastilla is a dish that is sure to impress.

How to Make the Moroccan Bastilla Pie
Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil for cooking + 1 tablespoon olive oil to roast the almonds                              2kg whole chicken cut in pieces or 2 kg chicken legs and thighs                                                          1kg sliced onions                                                                                                                                            1 ½ teaspoon ground turmeric                                                                                                                      1 teaspoon ground ginger                                                                                                                              1 teaspoon salt                                                                                                                                                  1 teaspoon black pepper                                                                                                                                2 cups chopped fresh parsley, about 1 large bunch                                                                                  1 cup chopped fresh coriander, about half a large bunch                                                                         400g blanched almonds                                                                                                                                 1 tablespoon honey                                                                                                                                     10 eggs, scrambled, plus 1 egg beaten for brushing                                                                            220g unsalted butter, divided                                                                                                                  500g filo pastry                                                                                                                                        small pinch saffron                                                                                                                              Ground cinnamon                                                                                                                                            Icing sugar

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 160 C (320 F). In a large casserole, heat the olive oil and add the chicken, onions, turmeric, ginger, saffron, salt and pepper. Leave over medium heat for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the parsley and coriander along with 1 cup water (about 240ml). Bring to the boil, lower the heat to medium-low and cover with a lid. Leave to simmer gently until the chicken is cooked, about 50 min.
  1. Meanwhile, prepare the almonds. Place the blanched almonds in a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bake in the oven until golden, about 18 minutes. Once the almonds are cold enough to handle, transfer them in a food processor or a nut grinder. Add 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon, 3 tablespoons icing sugar to the roasted almonds and process until coarsely ground. Set aside until ready to assemble.
  1. When the chicken is cooked, take the casserole off the heat and remove the chicken pieces from the pan (leaving the cooked herbs and onions inside the pan). Add 1 tablespoon honey, 2 tablespoons icing sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the onions and reduce the sauce to caramelize the onions. Leave over medium-low heat with no lid until all the liquid evaporates and the onions are golden brown, about 30 to 40 min. Stir occasionally to prevent the onions from sticking to the pan. No liquid should be left in the pan, except oil. Taste and adjust with salt if necessary.
  1. Once the chicken has cooled down to room temperature, pull out the chicken meat and discard the skin and the bones. Chop the chicken into smaller chunks, (about 1 cm/0.4 inch). Place in the fridge until ready to assemble.
  1. Crack and whisk the eggs in a medium sized bowl. In a small frying pan, melt 20g butter, add in the eggs and gently stir them until fully cooked to make scrambled eggs. Set aside until ready to assemble. Make sure that the scrambled eggs are not under cooked and runny because liquid can affect the pastry during the assembling process.

Now you can start assembling. You can prepare the filling up to two days in advance.

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C (390 F).
  1. Unroll the filo pastry sheets, keeping them under a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.
  1. Heat the remaining butter until melted. Place a filo sheet in the baking dish with one site hanging on one site of the dish and brush it with the melted butter. Place the second filo sheet on top hanging off on the other side of the dish and brush it with the butter. You might need more than two sheets of filo according to the size of the baking dish.
  2. Inside the dish, place the filling in this order: a layer of chicken chunks, a layer of caramelized onions, a layer of scrambled eggs and finally, a layer of coarse almonds.
  1. Sprinkle some of the melted butter on top and place a filo sheet to cover the stuffing. Brush it with the melted butter and place the second filo sheet on top. Fold the overlapping filo pastry in over the top, brush lightly with melted butter. Place a third filo sheet on top to cover the pie.
  1. Brush the pies with the beaten egg and bake in the oven until golden brown, about 25 min. Serve hot and sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon.
Notes:

For this dish I use a rectangle dish but you can also use a round dish.

You can also make individual pies but make sure you cut the filo in equal sizes so that you have enough to finish all the pies.

Traditionally, bastila was made with pigeon, nowadays Moroccans often use chicken. You can use either of them. Moroccans also use warka dough, instead of filo pastry.

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