Savoury Moroccan Pie

"In Morocco, this dish is known as Pastilla and is traditionally made with pigeon meat but chicken works equally well. The flaky layers of pastry, tender meat and sugar-cinnamon topping make a delightful combination. If you want to make this for a dinner party, just prepare it ahead of time, then freeze until a few hours before you need to serve it."
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Ready In:
1hr 45mins




  • About 2 hours before starting, remove the phyllo from the freezer but keep tightly covered.
  • Salt and pepper the chicken.
  • Brown in its own juices in a heavy skillet.
  • Remove to a plate.
  • Add the onions and parsley to the skillet.
  • Sauté in 2 tbsp vegetable oil or margarine until golden, stirring frequently.
  • Return chicken to the skillet and add coriander, turmeric, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ginger, saffron in water, allspice, and 2 cups water or more if you think it is needed.
  • Bring to a slow boil.
  • Cover and simmer about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is done.
  • Meanwhile, sauté the almonds in 4 tbsp oil until brown.
  • Remove to dry on paper towels.
  • When cool and dry, chop coarsely and combine with the sugar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
  • If you are going to cook the pastilla immediately, preheat oven to 375°F.
  • When chicken is done, remove from pot and let cool.
  • If you wish, skim off some of the fat from the sauce and leave sauce over small flame to reduce the stock to about 1 1/2 cups.
  • When the chicken is cool, debone it and, using your fingers, break it into small chunks, about 1/4 inch each.
  • Place on a plate.
  • When the sauce is reduced, slowly add the beaten eggs and stir for a minute or two until eggs become custard like.
  • Do not let the sauce become too dry.
  • You can assemble the pie several ways, using either a round quiche pan or a 9x13-inch dish.
  • Brush oil on the bottom of either pan you use.
  • For the rectangular method, place 1 phyllo sheet in the pan and brush with oil.
  • Repeat with 5 more sheets.
  • Over them, spread 1/2 the nuts, 1/2 the egg mixture, all the chicken the remaining egg mixture, and the remaining nuts.
  • Cover with 5-6 sheets of phyllo, again brushing with oil each time.
  • Fold over any loose ends and brush the tops with oil.
  • Take a last leaf of phyllo, fold under so that it neatly covers the pie, and brush with oil. (You can also layer the phyllo between the different foods).
  • For the circular method, place one sheet of phyllo in the middle of the quiche pan.
  • Brush with oil and then repeat with 5 more phyllo sheets, moving the pan a bit so that the phyllo fans the entire pan.
  • Fold 2 pieces of phyllo and place in center.
  • In a circle 9 inches in diameter, sprinkle 1/2 the almonds on top, then 1/2 the egg mixture, all the chicken, the remaining egg mixture and finally the remaining almonds.
  • Cover with the extended edges of the 6 phyllo sheets, brushing the edges first.
  • Seal down, then place 2 more sheets of phyllo on top.
  • Fold over and seal underneath, so that an enclosed circular crust is formed.
  • Bake the pie 30-45 minutes, until top is evenly browned.
  • When ready to serve, sprinkle the top with confectioners' sugar and cinnamon, almonds, or both, in crisscross fashion over the entire pastilla.
  • If preparing in advance, make up the pie, then layer with aluminum foil and freeze.
  • Remove a few hours before cooking and cook as normal.
  • You may need to bake it a bit longer.

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  1. This is identical to the recipe for Pastilla in Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cooking. I mention that be3cause your instructions say to add parsley with the onions, but in the ingredients you never mention parsley. I just used the amount specified in Joan Nathan's recipe, 1 cup chopped fresh parsley, and it was very tasty. I followed your/her instructions to reduce the sauce to 1.5 cups before adding the eggs, and I think I either didn't have enough sauce or cooked it too dry, bec the pastilla was dryer this time than the times I have made it in the past. Of well, still a 5 star recipe.


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