Moroccan Chicken Pie
This sweet and savory pie, known as pastilla or bastilla, is so unique and delicious! It takes a while to put together and is typically reserved for special occasions in Morocco. For the filling-- chicken and onions are slowly braised in a heavily spiced broth flavored with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and coriander. Then the pie is assembled with alternating layers of thin, flaky phyllo dough and crushed nuts. This pie is traditionally made with almonds, but this recipe calls for pistachios-- feel free to use either or a combination, they are both delicious!
This was actually my first time ever working with phyllo dough. I was a little bit intimidated since it's known to be extremely fragile and prone to drying out, but here are a few helpful tips when working with phyllo dough:
- Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before use. This recipe only uses about half of one roll, but unused defrosted phyllo dough will stay good in the refrigerator for up to one month.
- Don't unwrap the phyllo dough until everything else is prepped and you're ready to begin assembly.
- Once unwrapped, immediately cover the dough with a sheet of plastic wrap, and then a damp paper towel. The plastic wrap is a necessary barrier because you don't want the dough to get too moist or it will stick to itself.
- Work with only one sheet at a time, keeping the rest covered. And handle gently!
- Make sure you use enough butter when brushing the layers. Phyllo dough has almost no fat in it, so you'll want to really lay on the butter to create the most flavorful, flaky layers in your pie.
Moroccan Chicken Pie
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced small
- 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- pinch cloves
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- juice of 1/2 orange
- 1/2 cup pistachios, coarsely ground
- 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- zest of 1 orange
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 package (1 roll) frozen phyllo pastry dough, defrosted overnight
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned on each side (will not be cooked through). Remove chicken from pan-- set aside.
- Add onion to the same skillet and cook until translucent and starting to brown-- about 5-7 minutes. Add spices and cook for about a minute more, stirring constantly.
- Slowly add chicken stock, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and return chicken to pan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, for about 25-30 minutes, until chicken is very tender.
- Once chicken is tender, remove it from pan, let cool slightly and then chop/shred it. With the onion and spice mixture still simmering, slowly add the beaten eggs and sugar, stirring until it resembles loose scrambled eggs. Add the shredded chicken back to the pan along with the chopped parsley and juice of ½ orange. Stir to combine.
- Preheat oven to 375. In a small bowl, mix the ground pistachios with cinnamon, sugar, and orange zest. Set aside.
- Grease a pie pan with butter on the bottom and sides. Gently place the first layer of phyllo dough on the bottom of the pan allowing the excess to hang over the edges of the pan and brush liberally with melted butter. Repeat with another 2 layers of phyllo, coating each layer with butter, for a total of 3 layers.
- Top evenly with about half of the pistachio mixture. Then layer 3 more sheets of phyllo on top, again brushing each layer with melted butter.
- Pour the chicken filling on top and spread evenly. Layer 3 more sheets of phyllo dough on top, brushing each layer with butter, and top with the remainder of the nut mixture. Top with 3 more layers of buttered phyllo dough.
- Bake at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Slice and serve warm, dusting with extra powdered sugar and cinnamon.
- If you want to split up the work, filling can be prepared the day before.