Photograph by Keirnan Monaghan Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero Prop Styling by Theo Vamvounakis

Chicken Bastilla

Mains from Issue 4 – Fall / Winter 2014 – Cocoon

In our version of this sweet and salty Moroccan pie with Berber roots, shredded chicken is doused with a coterie of heady spices and shrouded in a Phyllo cocoon—wrapped and burrowed deep beneath translucent diaphanous sheets, then dusted in cinnamon.

serves 6

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 (3 1⁄2 lb) whole chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • cup dried currant
  • 1 ½ cups sliced almonds, toasted
  • cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 9 sheets from a box of frozen Phyllo dough, thawed

  • 1

    Season chicken generously with salt, pepper, and the ground spices. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet and sear until golden brown all over. Add cinnamon sticks and 3 cups of water; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until chicken is just cooked, 10-12 minutes. Transfer chicken pieces to a bowl, then boil broth until it’s reduced to 1½ cups. Reserve in skillet. Discard cinnamon.

  • 2

    Meanwhile, shred chicken, discarding skin and bones, and keep covered. Sauté onion in another skillet with remaining Tbsp oil until softened, 10 minutes. Stir in currants and season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, toss almonds with the sugar and cinnamon.

  • 3

    Return reduced broth to a simmer. Whisk in lemon juice and eggs and simmer, whisking, until thickened and most of the liquid is absorbed and eggs are finely scrambled, about 15 minutes. Let drain in a colander until ready to assemble.

  • 4

    Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 425°F. Brush a 9-inch springform pan with butter. Layer three sheets of phyllo, brushing with butter between each layer, and place in bottom and up sides of pan. Repeat with another 3 buttered sheets and lay horizontally across the first layer, pressing to fully line the pan.

  • 5

    Layer fillings; first, half the almonds, then chicken, onion-currant mixture, egg, and remaining almonds. Fold in phyllo to encase. Trim long side of last 3 sheets of phyllo to make a square then butter each and top bastilla gently tucking in the edges. Lightly dust with cinnamon. Bake on pre-heated baking sheet until golden brown, 30-35 minutes.