I love Moroccan food - the fruit and meat combinations, the spices, the textures, the colours, the aroma and the flavours - they are all my idea of heaven. Accordingly, when the French Fridays with Dorie pick for this week was a Moroccan inspired dish, I was excited.
However, I won't say that I was immediately excited, because I didn't actually know what chicken b'stilla (pronounced bee-stee-ya) was. I had to do some research to work out the history of this dish. Apparently, the Moroccans used to bake pigeon into the b'stilla; I think it would be pretty hard for me to come by pigeon, so I am relieved that Dorie modified this dish.
The b'stilla consists of marinated chicken, steeped in a spiced broth, which broth is subsequently thickened and used as a sauce for the chicken inside the filo pastry crust of the pie. The flavours of the pie are a mixture of sweet and savoury, similar to the fruit and meat combinations of Moroccan tagines and jewelled cous cous. The saucy chicken is baked inside a filo pastry crust, and you end up with a heavenly, tasty, saucy pie.
To fill in the process blanks, here are some step by step photos of the pie making process. First up, you take skinless chicken thighs (known here as "Lovely Legs" which always raises some eyebrows when you ask the deli man if he has them), and marinate them for an hour or so with chopped onion and garlic, and spices:
The marinated chicken is then simmered in chicken broth for an hour or so:
The chicken is then removed from the broth and shredded. Meanwhile, the broth is thickened with eggs and honey:
The chicken is then added back to the sauce, along with fresh coriander:
For the pie "nest", you line a casserole dish with sheets of buttered filo, which is then covered with toasted flaked almonds:
The saucy chicken is then placed inside the filo nest and covered with more flaked almonds, before the sides of the filo are folded over the top of the filling:
You then put a filo "lid" on the pie, which is tucked in like blankets on abed, and sprinkle the buttered top with cinnamon sugar:
As a side dish to serve with this pie, I think that jewelled cous cous would be perfect.
I loved this dish, and would definitely make it again.
To see what everyone else thought of the chicken b'stilla, visit the LYL section for this week at the FFwD site.