Chicken b’stilla

Oh, no. Another dreaded meat pie. SoupAddict was not pleased that, out of the 300 recipes in Around My French Table, there have been not one, but two, meat pies in the cooking line-up for French Fridays with Dorie.

SoupAddict does not like the meat pie.

Meat enclosed in pastry. Who thought of this concept?

Meat can certainly stand by itself, and pastry should be enclosing things like luscious chocolate and sweet pastry cream and tangy blueberries.

I was, however, intrigued by the ingredient list. I’ve never given chicken b’stilla a second thought because of its meat pie nature, but once I saw Dorie’s recipe, I knew I’d like the filling. Cinnamon. [Check]  Ginger. [Check]  Saffron. [Check-check]  I had to give it a shot.

Sans “pie,” of course.

This mixture sits for an hour or so prior to cooking, and when I lifted the lid off the pot, the amazing aroma about knocked me off my feet.

But in a good way.

As in, big, happy inhale, partial swoon.

I followed all of the cooking directions as is, even though I was making the dish without the phyllo crust. I simply took the dutch oven from the stove and shoved it into the oven. Almonds and some of the cinnamon sugar went on top halfway through the final baking stretch.

Served over brown rice, it was quite delicious.

As promised, when I find the recipe already on the interwebs, I’m gonna post it here. This is the original recipe without my changes. I’ve included a few preparation notes at the very end, which might help.

Chicken B’Stilla

from Around My French Table.

8 chicken thighs skinned
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, split and chopped
3/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Big pinch of saffron threads
2 1/2 cups of chicken broth
Salt
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs
2 tbsp honey
Freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
8 sheets phyllo (each 9×14 inches)
About 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 ounces sliced almonds (a scant cup), toasted and chopped
Cinnamon sugar, for dusting

1. Put the chicken pieces, onions, garlic, and spices into a Dutch oven or other large casserole and give everything a good stir. Cover and let the chicken marinate for one hour at room temperature. (If it’s more convenient for you, the chicken can be marinated in the refrigerator for as long as one day)

2. Add the chicken broth and 1 tsp salt to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so that the liquid simmers, cover the pot, and cook for 1 hour, at which point the chicken should be falling-off-the-bone tender.

3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl. Strain the broth, saving both the liquid and the onions. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and cut it into small cubes or shred it.

4. Clean the Dutch oven and pour the broth back into it, or pour the broth into a medium saucepan. Whisk in the lemon juice, bring to a boil, and cook until you have 1 cup liquid. Reduce the heat to low.

5. Beat the eggs with honey, and, whisking all the while, pour into the broth.

6. Heat, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens enough that your whisk leaves tracks in it, about 5 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

7. Stir the chicken and reserved onions into the sauce, along with the cilantro and parsley. (You can make the chicken and sauce up to 1 day ahead and keep it covered and refrigerated.)

8. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

9. Take your phyllo sheets from the package and cover them with a damp kitchen towel. Brush a 9-inch round cake pan, one that’s 2 inches tall, with melted butter. Brush 1 sheet of phyllo with melted butter and center it in the pan, so that the excess hangs over the edges. Brush another sheet and press it into the pan so that it’s perpendicular to the first sheet and forms a plus sign. Place a third and then a fourth buttered sheet into the pan so that they form an X; the overhang from all the sheets should cover the edges of the pan.

10. Sprinkle half the almonds over the filo. Spoon in the saucy chicken, spreading it evenly across the pan, and top with the rest of the almonds. Fold the overhanging phyllo over the chicken.

11. Butter the remaining sheets of phyllo, stacking them one on top of the other on the work surface. Using a pot lid or the bottom of a tart pan as a guide, cut out a 10- to 11- circle. Center the circle over the cake pan and gently tuck the eduge of the dough into the pan, working your way around it as though you were making a bed. Brush the top of the b’stilla with a little butter and sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar. Place the pan on the baking sheet.

12. Bake the b’stilla for 20 minute, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes more. If the top seems to be getting too brown at any point, cover it loosely with foil. Transfer the b’stilla to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 5 minutes.

13. Lay a piece of parchment over a cutting board and have a serving platter at hand. Turn the b’stilla out onto the parchment-lined board and then invert it onto the serving platter, so that it’s right side up. Serve the b’stila now, cutting it into wedges, or serve it warm or at room temperature.

Notes:

When reducing the liquid, make sure you really reduce it, if you want a thick-ish sauce. This could take a bit of time; longer than you’d expect.

This is the tricky part of this recipe. If you don’t want your sauce to turn to scrambled eggs, you can approach this step in two ways: you can dump the honey-egg mixture into the hot reduced liquid and whisk as though your very life depends on it. And I do mean whisk. Constantly. Ignore the phone. Forget the fact that your toddler is fingering your favorite vase. Whisk!

Or, you can temper the honey-egg mixture first. Add a tablespoon of the hot, reduced liquid to the honey-egg mixture and whisk thoroughly. Add some more. Whisk. Then add the now-warmed honey-egg mixture to the liquid and whisk until the tracks appear. You’re far less likely to get scrambled eggs this way, and it takes only half the time.

This post is participating in French Fridays with Dorie, a blogging project where we cook our way each week through the recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook, Around My French Table. Given the book’s newborn status, we’ve been requested to not post the recipe (although SoupAddict will post it if she finds it elsewhere on the web). SoupAddict hopes that you’ll understand and will perhaps be inspired to either buy the book or seek out a recipe of a similar nature to try on your own. Or better yet, join us on French Fridays with Dorie!