Chicken and Almond B'stilla

Gourmet's Adventures with Ruth: Season One: Peggy Markel's Morocco

Serves6
  • Active time:45 min
  • Start to finish:1 1/2 hr
Peggy Markel's Morocco
November 2009
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For filling

  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 (3-lb) chicken, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 5 large cilantro sprigs
  • 5 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 12 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz) slivered almonds
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water

For b'stilla

  • 6 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Garnish

    ground cinnamon and confectioners sugar
  • Make Filling

    Lightly toast saffron in a dry small heavy skillet over moderately low heat, shaking skillet, just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer saffron to a small dish, let cool, then crumble with fingers.
  • Heat oil in a 5-to 6-qt pot over moderately high heat until it shimmers then brown chicken, turning once, about 5 minutes. Stir in onions, cilantro sprigs, cinnamon sticks, ginger, turmeric, 1 tsp each of salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup sugar. Add 2 cups water and saffron to chicken in pot and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool chicken to room temperature.
  • Boil liquid remaining in pot until reduced to 1/2 cup and discard onions, cinnamon sticks and cilantro sprigs. Whisk eggs into liquid in pot and scramble over medium heat until eggs are cooked. Transfer eggs to a plate and set aside.
  • While chicken is cooking, toast almonds in a dry skillet over moderate heat until golden. Transfer almonds to a cutting board to cool, then coarsely chop. Stir together almonds, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 Tbsp remaining sugar, orange blossom water and 1/4 tsp salt in a bowl, then set aside.
  • Bake pastries until golden and sugar is caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes (they will shrink to about 5 inches long). Transfer pastries to a rack to cool completely.
  • When chicken is cool, pull meat into shreds, discarding skin and bones. Toss chicken with remaining 2 Tbsp sugar, remaining 1 tsp ground cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp salt.
  • ASSEMBLE AND BAKE B'STILLA

    Preheat oven to 375F with rack in middle position.
  • Stack phyllo sheets on a work surface and cover stack with overlapping sheets of plastic wrap and then a dampened kitchen towel. Keeping remaining phyllo covered, place 1 sheet on a work surface and brush with butter. Transfer buttered phyllo to a large baking sheet (phyllo may overhang edges of pan). Repeat with 2 more sheets phyllo, buttering, then layering each sheet on top of the previous one in a star pattern to form a round. (Angle the second sheet to the left and the third sheet to the right, sheets should not align.)
  • Spread chicken in an 11-inch round in center of phyllo and top with scrambled eggs. Sprinkle cilantro and parsley over eggs and drizzle with 2 Tbsp melted butter. Spread almond mixture over herbs and fold overhanging phyllo up over filling toward center of round, brushing phyllo with melted butter. Put 1 of remaining sheets of phyllo on a work surface, brush with butter and place over bstilla. Butter and layer 2 more sheets of phyllo over bstilla in same manner (sheets should not align). Gently tuck edges of phyllo under bstilla. Gently press on bstilla to flatten slightly.
  • Bake b'stilla in center of oven 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking, until top and side are golden brown.
  • Dust b'stilla with cinnamon and sprinkle confectioners' sugar over top with fingers in a lattice pattern. Cut into wedges to serve.
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