Friday, February 20, 2009

Moroccan-Style Chicken Pie

My latest Bon Appétit magazine has been sitting on my coffee table for a week. I finally opened it today and a few recipes caught my eye. This is one of them.

I like this recipe for many reasons! First, the ingredients are readily available. I had almost all of them right here at home. Next, it was an easy recipe to make - no complicated procedures here. Finally, the pie was wonderfully aromatic, flavorful, and satisfying.

I loved the combination of sweet and savory, too. And the crunchy phyllo topping with nuts and sugar (and salt) between the layers was really nice.
I'm not sure how necessary it was having 6 layers of phyllo on the bottom and 4 on the top. I would switch that around for next time. The other thing I would do differently would be to cut the bottom layers of phyllo the way the recipe recommended (using the bottom of the pie plate), but make the top layers bigger. As you can see below, the top layers weren't quite big enough.

But those are minor little adjustments that I can recommend to you if you try this recipe.
Speaking of the recipe, I really didn't stray much from what was published in Bon Appétit. I used butter flavored cooking spray instead of butter between the bottom 6 layers of phyllo dough. I did use butter between the top layers because they were exposed and I didn't want to risk the texture being wrong. Also, I used granulated sugar for the crust, and skipped the cinnamon (by accident!).

Moroccan-Style Chicken Pie
Slightly Adapted from Bon Appétit

Serves 5-6 people.

Filling Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups low-salt chicken broth (I used home made stock)
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs
1/4 cup chopped golden raisins
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Crust Ingredients
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 sheets (about 17x12 inches) fresh phyllo pastry or frozen, thawed
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted*

* I used less butter because I used cooking oil between the layers for the bottom of the pie. I also went easy on the butter for the layers of the top crust. I don't think you need more than 1/4 cup to prepare the crust with all butter.

To Prepare The Filling
Put a large, heavy pan over medium heat on the stove. Add the oil and the onion. Season the onion with salt and pepper and cook for approximately 10 minutes until the onions are soft and transparent. At that point, sprinkle them with the ginger, cinnamon, tumeric, and saffron. Continue to cook the onions for one minute. Then, sprinkle them with a tablespoon of flour and cook for one more minute.

Add the chicken stock to the pan and the chicken thighs. Cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes so that the thighs are cooked through. Turn them over midway through the cooking time. Here's my chicken when it was done.

Remove the chicken from the pan and add the golden raisins to the sauce. Once the chicken is cool enough, shred it. Then combine the chicken and the sauce and place the mixture in the refrigerator to cool. Here's my finished filling:

It is supposed to cool completely before assembling the pie.

The pie assembly goes very quickly. So turn on your oven to 375 degrees and start preheating.

Prepare The Crust Ingredients
In a small food processor, mix the almonds, sugar, and salt until it is evenly processed and resembles coarse salt.

Cut The Phyllo Dough
Remove 10 sheets of phyllo dough from the package. Put the rest back in the freezer. Split the 10 sheets of phyllo so that you have 5 for the top layer of the pie, and 5 for the bottom. Keep the phyllo covered with a damp (not soaking wet) paper towel or two while you are not using it. Phyllo dries out very quickly, so you want to keep it moist.

Place the 5 layers designated for the bottom of the pie on a working surface. Put the pie pan you are using on top and cut around the bottom edge of the pie pan so that you have 5 phyllo disks that will perfectly fit into your pie pan. Put the disks on a plate and cover them with the damp paper towels.

Place the 5 layers designated for the top of the pie on a working surface. Place the pie pan on top. This time, when you cut through the layers of phyllo, trace the edges of the top of the pie pan, which will give you larger disks for the top of the pie. You want these disks to fit perfectly on top of the pie once it is filled with the chicken mixture. Put the disks on a plate and cover them with the damp paper towels.

To Assemble The Pie
Work with the bottom layers of phyllo first. Remove one sheet of phyllo. Brush butter on it and then top with a sprinkling of the sugar-almond mixture. Place another sheet of phyllo on top and repeat the procedure. Keep repeating until you have the five layers of phyllo ready. Place them in the bottom of the pie pan.

Cover the bottom layers of phyllo with the chicken filling.

With the top layers of phyllo, use the same procedure of buttering the dough and sprinkling with the sugar-almond mixture until all five layers are ready. Place them on the top of the pie and tuck in any extra edges into the pie pan. Top with the remaining sugar-almond mixture.

Bake the pie for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.


Muneeba said...

I've made this dish once before, using a different recipe, and mine was on the drier side. But yours looks luscious and just right! Will give it a go for sure!

Kevin said...

This chicken pot pie sounds really good. I like the use of the raisins and the cinnamon.

Anonymous said...

That looks beautiful, Meryl.

I saw something similar recently, where this kind of meat pie was dusted with cinnamon sugar.

recipes2share said...

This looks delicious and I like all the 'stages-photo's'!

Sara said...

This looks amazing! I love this dish, I usually only order it in a restaurant though. I am going to try making it at home next time.

prosper said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Foodycat said...

I've always wanted to try a bastilla! That looks so good.

Anonymous said...

I have made it and I am in love with it. After 2 days I made it for a second time.

punch said...

I'm so glad you posted this... we made it tonight and it was delicious, although I monkeyed with the crust a little to make it easier for myself.