B'stila (moroccan chicken/nut pie)

Yield: 6 Servings

Measure Ingredient
½ pounds Almond, blanched
½ teaspoon Cinnamon
Honey; to taste (opt)
1 tablespoon Ghi
⅓ cup Butter
1 medium Onion; minced
½ Chicken; boned & cubed small
½ teaspoon Pepper
1 pinch Saffron
½ teaspoon Cinnamon
¾ cup Parsley; minced
¼ cup Coriander; minced
Salt; to taste
2 Egg
1 pack Filo sheets
¼ pounds Butter; melted
from the rec.food.recipes archives

Brown almonds in a little oil until golden. Chop coarsely or pound with a mortar and pestle. Add ½ teaspoon cinnamon and (optionally) honey or sugar to sweeten to taste (ANC adds none but cites recipes calling for up to ½ cup sugar--I favor a little honey as the contrast of the sweetness with the savory chicken is part of the exotic appeal of the dish). Set aside.

Heat ghi and butter in a large heavy pot. Add minced onion and saut‚ for a few minutes. Add chicken meat equivalent to about ½ chicken (e.g. two boneless breasts), cut in small pieces (as for a pot pie), along with pepper, saffron, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, parsley, coriander, and salt to taste.

Simmer until the chicken is done. Beat two eggs and slowly stir them into the sauce. remove from heat.

Have ready filo sheets, melted butter (at least ¼ lb), and a pastry brush. Select a shallow baking pan about 8" in diameter, such as an iron skillet. What you basically want to do is construct a pie by layering the filo sheets in the pan and then folding them over the contents; it will probably be easiest if you cut the sheets in half or smaller, for instance into long rectangles about the width of the pan and twice as long. Brush one of the sheets with melted butter, and put it, butter side up, in the bottom of the pan, the excess dangling over the side. Add another sheet, at an angle to the first, and repeat so that you have filo covering the bottom of the pan and dangling out all around (this is hard to describe). Use about 5 sheets to form this layer. Repeat the process, forming another layer.

Now pour the chicken and sauce into the pan. Put several more buttered sheets on top of the chicken, this time not overlapping the edge--use smaller pieces or fold them in half. Spread the nut mixture on top of this. Put another layer or so of filo, then fold the dangling ends over the top so as to close the envelope. (Your mileage may vary on the number and details of layering the sheets). Brush the top with butter. At this point the b'stila can be refrigerated if desired (this is time-consuming and you may wish to do all this the day before serving).

Just before serving, put the pan in a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden: flip it onto an oven-proof plate (or use an ordinary plate to flip it over back into the skillet) and return to brown the other side, 30-40 minutes total. place on a serving platter, sprinkle with powdered sugar, then make fanciful decorative designs with ground cinnamon. (When I had this in a restaurant it said something like "eat me.")

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