Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New flavors: Moroccan pastilla

After venturing to the museum of natural history in the rain yesterday, Chris, Dana, the kids and I went for lunch nearby at the La Mosquée, somewhere I’d been wanting to go since last summer.

This landmark mosque has steam baths, a souk, and tea salon, but we were there strictly for the restaurant. It did not disappoint.

They had all kinds of couscous and tagines, which I love. But I’ve recently had couscous at Chez Omar and a tagine at 404. I wanted to try something new. In addition to a starter of a grated carrot and eggplant salad, I ordered another starter that I had never heard of: Moroccan pastilla.

The description was intriguing, and the actual dish was to-die-for. It’s a pie of shredded chicken, egg, almonds, onions and spices, all tucked inside phyllo dough that is dusted with sugar and cinnamon. It’s savory and sweet and crunchy and insanely delicious. Especially when washed down with the sweetest mint tea imaginable. It made me happy all day.

Important note: traditional Moroccan pastilla is made with pigeon. I don’t think I’d be so keen on this one.

To try it at home...

Ingredients


• 1 each chicken, whole, deboned, cut into pieces
• Salt
• Pepper
• 12 each parsley, fresh, sprigs
• Ginger
• 6 each eggs
• 2 cup almonds, blanched, browned on the stove
• 1 pound phyllo pastry dough
• 1 cup sugar
• Cinnamon
• 1 each egg, beaten

Directions

In a large pot, put chicken cut into quarters with salt, pepper and ginger along with enough water to cover. Cook until chicken is soft and falling from the bones. Remove from liquid, skin and debone the chicken, and cut meat into small pieces and set aside.

In same large pot, add the six eggs one by one, beating as you go. When all are beaten in and almost set, remove mixture and let cool, dividing into two parts and discarding any liquid. Chop the browned almonds and divide into two.

In a 9x12 inch baking dish, begin the assembly by placing four sheets of the phyllo dough, brushing oil over each sheet before placing the next on top. Next, place in 1/2 the egg mixture and sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top. Place two more phyllo sheets (with oil between), and place 1/2 the chicken. Sprinkle this with sugar and cinnamon too.

Next place 2 more phyllo sheets (with oil between), and place 1/2 the almond mixture in, sprinkling with sugar and cinnamon on top. Cover this with 2 more phyllo sheets, and start this assembly process again. Two sheets phyllo, almonds, two sheets phyllo, chicken, two sheets phyllo, eggs, two sheets phyllo.

Brush the top of the last sheets of phyllo with beaten egg. Bake at 350 degrees until golden, 25-35 minutes.

From Fast Recipes

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