Around My French Table, Dorie Greenspan’s French Cooking book, has shown me that the French takes food from other cultures and makes them their own too. So far we had made Vietnamese noodle soup, gnocchi French-style, and now B’stilla (or Pastilla), a Moroccan pie.
Chicken B’stilla is like a chicken pie but instead of using pie pastry to cover the filling, we use flaky phyllo pastry. The chicken filling is spiced, sweet and savoury. In this version, the chicken is marinated in onions, garlic, ground ginger, ground coriander, ground cinnamon and saffron before simmering in chicken broth till it’s tender. A thick sauce is made with the strained broth and eggs, flavoured with lemon and honey. The chicken is then shredded and mixed with the sauce. I let my chicken filling sit overnight in the refrigerator because I didn’t have enough time to complete the dish that day. I wanted lots of time to work with the phyllo pastry as I’ve heard how tricky it can get and it’s also my first time with it!
I bought Irresistibles phyllo pastry, which comes in long, rectangular sheets, thawed them in the refrigerator for more than 24 hours and trimmed them to the 9 x 14 inches required for this recipe. I wanted to skimp on the parchment paper so I didn’t separate the phyllo pastry but left them stacked as they are. They separate and lifted off easily after brushing with butter and only tore because I brushed too hard. Laying 4 sheets down on the pan and folding them over the filling was manageable but I couldn’t tucked the top sheets in neatly. They ended up pressed down but with the ends sticking up. I baked the b’stilla as directed and the pastry turned golden brown but cracked all over! Could anyone tell me why that happened? Turning the b’stilla out onto the cutting board before inverting it made it a little worse.
Putting the cracked pastry aside, the dish was a hit! I love the sweet and savoury filling as did my husband. Our children liked it too but they both seem to love the thin, flaky pastry more! I served it for dinner with a last-minute put together side of frozen peas and corn cooked with onion, chicken broth and a little cream. I will make this again seeing I have half a box of phyllo pastry leftover and the filling is delicious. Hope the pastry will turn out better next time. The only thing I don’t like about making this is the lingering sweet smell of simmered onions, cinnamon and saffron. By the second day I had to open the windows even though it’s below freezing outside to air the house!
Click here to look at the b’stilla other French Fridays with Dorie members made.