A Moroccan A Chicken Pie That Will Blow Your Mind

A simplified version of pastilla, the savory Moroccan pastry served on festive occasions, this recipe can be broken up so the process is part of the fun.

This recipe is from New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/15/dining/moroccan-chicken-pie.html

Though I am by no means an expert in Moroccan cuisine, I have long been an ardent admirer. Even before my first visit, I began dabbling, learning from cookbooks.

Over the years, I have become quite comfortable making a small repertoire of dishes of which I never tire: I love the abundant use of spices in Moroccan food, the frequent presence of lemons and green olives, the smell of steaming buttered couscous.

Some dishes are easily prepared; others, like pastilla (also known as b’stillah or bsteeya), a well-known savory pastry, require a definite commitment. This somewhat-simplified version involves a lot of steps, but it can be broken down so you can enjoy the process.Chicken thighs are braised until tender before being assembled into the pie.CreditDavid Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

I could eat it without cooking further!

The main work is braising the chicken, which is simmered to tenderness with onions and sweet spices, like turmeric, saffron, ginger, allspice and, especially, cinnamon. Torn into shreds, the perfumed chicken mixture must be rather highly seasoned.

You can make the chicken filling up to a day in advance of serving, or assemble the entire pie and refrigerate, unbaked, up to a day ahead. (The actual building of the pie takes relatively little time.)

In Morocco, thin pastry leaves called warqa are used to make the pie’s flaky layers; elsewhere, most cooks use more readily available phyllo, which is definitely recommended for beginners. (To learn more about making warqa, look online for videos of the process — fascinating, but a bit daunting.)

I like to assemble the pie in a 12-inch paella pan, but a large skillet or springform cake pan would work well. The pan is lined with seven layers of well-buttered phyllo sheets, which hang well beyond the pan’s edges. In goes the cooled filling, along with chopped toasted almonds and pistachios. (My version is dotted with lemony ricotta, rather than the more traditional lemony scrambled egg.) Then the overhanging phyllo is folded over the top and tucked in to make a compact pie.

The pie is baked until beautifully golden brown, then inverted onto a platter and served warm. The final step is dusting the pie generously with powdered sugar, like a thin layer of fallen snow. It might sound odd, but this combination of sweet flaky pastry and savory braised chicken is truly beguiling.

For Moroccan weddings and other festive occasions, pastilla is traditionally a first course, followed by many other celebratory dishes. At my house, it’s a fancy rich main course, followed by a guilt-assuaging bright green salad.

A Very American Mango Pie Recipe

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE GRAHAM-CRACKER CRUST:

  • 2 ½ cups (280 grams) finely ground graham-cracker crumbs
  •  cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 large pinch sea salt
  • 9 tablespoons (128 grams) unsalted butter, melted

FOR THE MANGO CUSTARD:

  • ¾ cup cold water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon powdered gelatin (2 1/2 packages at 2 1/2 teaspoons per pack)
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 30-ounce can Alphonso mango purée (3 1/4 cups)
  • 1 large pinch sea salt

PREPARATION

  1. Stir crumbs, sugar, cardamom and salt together in a medium bowl. Add butter, and stir with a fork until evenly combined.
  2. Pour half the crumb mixture into a 9-inch round metal pie pan, and spread evenly. Press down with fingers, a metal measuring cup or a second pie pan to compact the crumbs as much as possible across the bottom and up the sides of the pan into an even crust. (The more compressed the crust, the less it will crumble.) Repeat to form the remaining crumb mixture into a crust in a second pan.
  3. Heat oven to 325. Transfer both crusts to freezer, and chill for 15 minutes. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Place 3/4 cup cold water in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup sugar with the gelatin; sprinkle mixture evenly over the surface of the cold water. Let sit a few minutes to bloom.
  5. In the meantime, whip the cream and remaining 1/4 cup sugar together until medium-stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  6. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm 1 cup of the mango purée to body temperature (stir to make sure you are just warming it and not bringing it to a boil). Pour warmed mango purée over gelatin mixture, and whisk until well combined. Gelatin should dissolve into mango completely. Gradually whisk in remaining mango purée.
  7. Use a rubber spatula to beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl until it is soft and smooth, then add to mango mixture along with a large pinch of sea salt. Use an immersion blender to blend until completely smooth, tipping the bowl to make sure you’ve incorporated everything well. Gently tap the bowl on the counter once or twice to pop any air bubbles. Use the spatula to gently fold about 1/4 of the mango mixture into the whipped cream, then fold cream into the larger amount of mixture until no streaks remain.
  8. Divide custard between cooled crusts. Use a rubber spatula to smooth out the filling. Refrigerate 5 hours or overnight until firm and chilled. Serve chilled.