Main Dish

Chicken Bistilla


Source: Adapted from “A Month in Marrakesh” by Andy Harris (Hardie Grant, 2011).

Main dish

Chicken Bistilla

This phyllo-enclosed mixture of shredded chicken, chopped almonds and spices hails from Morocco. Serve with a simple green salad.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium red onion, sliced thin (about 1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, cut into very thin slices (about 1 tablespoon)

1 1/2 teaspoons saffron threads

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 2/3 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth, warmed

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange (at least 5 tablespoons juice)

1/3 cup golden raisins, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes

About 1 cup (3 ounces) almonds, chopped fine

2 large eggs, beaten

1 3/4 pounds cooked chicken, shredded

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, for brushing, plus more as needed

12 sheets phyllo pastry

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the saffron, cloves, ginger, coriander, cinnamon and nutmeg and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the broth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the sauce has thickened and the liquid has reduced by half, 10 to 15 minutes, adjusting the heat so that the broth is barely bubbling.

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the orange juice, raisins and almonds, and stir to combine. Stir in the eggs and shredded chicken, mixing well. Allow the mixture to cool, then season it with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and use a little butter to lightly grease an 81/2- or 9-inch round straight-sided baking dish. Place the phyllo sheets in a stack and cover them with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.

One at a time, brush 6 sheets of phyllo dough with the melted butter and place them buttered side down in the prepared dish, staggering them so that they cover the bottom of the dish fairly evenly. Extend them out evenly over the sides of the dish. Spoon the chicken mixture into the dish and level it, then top with the remaining phyllo sheets, buttering each one and arranging them buttered side down so that the filling is completely covered. Pull the overhanging edges of the pastry sheets up and bend them toward the middle of the dish, so that they crimp up a little during baking. Brush the top of the bistilla with melted butter. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

Let the bistilla cool for 3 minutes before transferring it to a serving plate. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Source: Adapted from “A Month in Marrakesh” by Andy Harris (Hardie Grant, 2011).

Per serving: 480 calories, 36 g protein, 26 g carbohydrates, 26 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 160 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar.

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