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I had this meat pie 11 years ago when I was in Moroccan pastry shop. I have tried to figure out how to make it with utter failure several times before I finally found a recipe for a variation of it in one of my fiance's cookbooks and adapted it to my tastes. It takes a lot of work, but it is so worth it. It's helpful to have more than one person working on the various parts of this recipe at the same time if you don't want to have to wait 2 hours to eat it. Every step produces a different ingredient to put together at the end. Also, the food processor is your friend.
- 1⁄2 lb phyllo dough
- 4 chicken breasts
- 2 small onions
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 2 cups water
- 1⁄4 cup mushroom
- 1 potato
- 1 carrot
- 1⁄8 cup green peas
- 1⁄8 cup corn
- 1 cup almonds
- 1⁄4 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup butter or 1 cup margarine
- 6 eggs
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint or 2 tablespoons parsley
- THE CRUST: If frozen, thaw out 1/2 pound (half a package) philo dough in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
- THE MEAT FILLING: In a large pan, combine 4 chicken breasts (cubed); 1 small onion (coarsely chopped); 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1/8 teaspoons dried); and 2 cups of water. At this point, you could also add any vegetables you like such as mushrooms (sliced); green peas, a potato (peeled and cubed); a carrot (peeled and diced); kernels of corn; etc. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the vegetables and meat are thoroughly cooked (20-30 minutes).
- THE NUTS: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place 1 cup almonds (finely chopped) in a shallow baking pan. Bake, stirring occasionally until golden brown (10-15 minutes). Cool.
- THE SPICES: In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger, and 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg.
- THE ONION MIXTURE: In a large frying pan, cook 1 small onion (finely chopped), in 3 tablespoons butter or margarine until limp but not browned.
- THE OTHER FILLING: In a medium bowl, whisk together 6 eggs; 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped); 1 teaspoons salt; 1/4 teaspoons black pepper (freshly ground); and 2 tablespoons fresh mild mint or parsley (chopped). Add to the ONION MIXTURE (from above) and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until eggs are softly set. Remove from heat.
- THE PASTILLA: Melt 1 cup butter or margarine. Use a brush to grease a 9-inch springform pan generously. Unroll the sheets of the phyllo dough so that they lie flat. Cover the dough with waxed paper and a wet paper towel so that they don't dry out. Line the pan with 1 sheet of dough, allowing the dough to extend over the edge of the pan. Brush the piece of dough generously with butter. Top with another piece of dough and brush with butter. Continue this until you have 8 layers of butter-brushed phyllo dough.
- FILLING THE PASTILLA: For the filling, add a layer of THE MEAT FILLING (from above), THE OTHER FILLING (from above), and then THE NUTS (from above). Sprinkle THE SPICES (from above) over the nuts.
- Fold the remaining sheets of phyllo dough to fit the pan. Reserve 2 sheets for the topping. Stack the phyllo over THE NUTS, brushing each layer with butter. Fold the edges of the phyllo that extend beyond the pan in toward the center. Top with the last 2 sheets of phyllo, folded to fit the pan; tuck any protruding edges down inside the rim of the pan. Brush with the remaining butter.
- Using a razor blade or small sharp knife, cut through the top layers of the dough down to THE NUTS to mark the pie in 8 wedge shapes.
- Bake until well browned and heated through (45 minutes to an hour).
- Remove the pan sides.
- Sift confectioner's sugar and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon over the top.
- Serve immediately, cut into the marked wedges.