This is something I truthfully never would have tried on my own if it weren’t for a friend insisting that I do because I’m not a huge fan of meat that’s both sweet and savory- or so I tough until I tried some Pastilla for the first time. Traditionally this is made with pigeon meat but this version uses chicken. I ate SO any different Pastilla’s when in Morocco as well, and every version is slightly different with the basics being filo pastry, meat, dried fruits, nuts, and a dusting of either honey or icing sugar on-top.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 boneless chicken thighs about 750g
- 10 grams butter
- 2 onions finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 pinch saffron
- 500 milliliters chicken stock
- 4 eggs beaten
- 75 grams ground almonds or pistachios
- 75 grams dried dates finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 4 tablespoons chopped parsley finely
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6 slices filo pastry
- 60 grams butter melted
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the chicken and fry it skin-side down, until crisped up and brown. Turn the thighs over and cook for a couple more minutes, then remove them from the pan.
- Add the butter to the pan and when it has melted, add the onions and fry them gently until soft. Add the garlic and spices and fry for a couple more minutes.
- Put the chicken back in the pan and pour in the stock or 500ml of water. Season, then cover the pan and simmer for about half an hour or until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken and set it aside.
- When it is cool enough to handle, finely chop the meat – it’s up to you whether you keep the skin or not. Put the liquid back over the heat and reduce it by half.
- Add the eggs to the cooking liquid and continue to cook over a low heat until you have a mixture that resembles loose scrambled eggs. Add the ground nuts and stir, then add the dates, orange blossom water, zest and finally, the chicken. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. To assemble the pie, you need a large ovenproof dish about 28cm in diameter.
- Take a sheet of filo pastry and brush it with melted butter. Drape it over the dish, making sure it is gently pushed into the corners without any tearing. Repeat with another sheet of filo, this time placing it at a right angle to the first. Repeat with a further 2 sheets of filo, this time placing them on the diagonal.
- Spread the filling over the pastry. Fold over the overhanging pieces of filo in reverse order – they should just about cover the filling. Take the remaining 2 pieces of filo and cut them to fit the dish. Brush them with butter, then cover the pie, tucking under any corners. Bake the pie in the oven for about 30 minutes until the pastry is a crisp, golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before dusting it with the icing sugar and cinnamon.