My, my Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie: Bastilla

I’m going to venture a guess that chicken pot pie is probably one of the top selling frozen foods.  What’s not to love about pot pie? Warm gooey chicken-y goodness encased in pie crust.  Believe it or not, Morocco has a version of that too! It’s called Bastilla, and it’s not your average chicken pot pie. Far from it, but I’d say just as good (if not better!).
I’ve actually been wanting to make this for a long time.  I honestly can’t remember where I first ate Bastilla, but I remember afterwards coming home from wherever and printing out the recipe, probably about 5 years ago.  And there it sat in my recipe book, yellowing, forgotten and untested.  Until now.
When you first read the ingredients, you may scrunch your face, shake your head and close your browser.  Don’t!  I’ll admit the combination of chicken, eggs, almond and powdered sugar sounds weird and unappetizing, but trust me, it’s not.  The proper way to make this is actually as one big pie, but I like to make mini-dishes, probably because I typically cook for one, and like to make me-sized meals.  This was my tragic flaw this evening, as my bastillas came out wonky shaped, thanks in a large part due to my mishandling of the phyllo (which was inexcusable since I’ve used it so many times before…), and in the end the one that best formed was the one I folded up like a dumpling.  As I’ve said before, do as I say, not as I do. In the end, however, the taste was the same.  Another tip I have is this: if you don’t want to mess with making the phyllo or making this as a pie at all, try just making the filling ingredients and using it in a pita or as a chicken salad sandwich. I think that it’d be fabulous and a very transportable way to give lunch some pizzazz.
Serves 4-6
2-3 TB olive oil, for the pan
2 TB butter, melted
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 TB blanched almonds, chopped
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4-1/2 whole chicken, cooked (Confession. I cheated by using a chicken I already roasted earlier this week because I needed to make some stock for the freezer) or approximately 9 oz chicken fillets, cooked and chopped**
3 eggs, beaten with 2 tsp water
1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
7-8 sheets phyllo dough
salt and pepper, to taste
confectioners sugar, for dusting at the end
1.  Preheat the oven to 400F.  Heat the oil in a large heavy bottom skillet.  Add the onions and cook over medium heat until they soften. Stir in the garlic and almonds and cook for 2 minutes until the almonds toast a bit. Add the chicken and the spices and cook gently until it’s all warmed through.  Add the herbs, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cool.  This step can be done in advance.
2.  Scramble the eggs as you normally would. Set aside.
3.  When you’re ready to assemble, melt the butter. Separate the phyllo dough and keep covered with a clean, damp cloth.  Brush a little melted butter over the base of an ovenproof dish (like a pie plate) and cover with one sheet of phyllo, allowing the sides to flop over the end. Brush the sheet of phyllo with melted butter and place another on top.  Repeat with another two layers.
4.  Spread the chicken and onion mixture on top of the phyllo. Then layer with the scrambled eggs.  Fold the edges over the filling.
bastilla assembly
5.  Cover with the remaining sheets of phyllo, brushing each one with butter. Tuck the overlapping edges under the pie.  Brush with a bit of olive oil.
6.  Bake the pie for about 25-20 minutes, or until the phyllo is puffed and golden.  Dust the top with powdered sugar.
*If you do what I did, or tried to do, use the same method using oven proof individual size dishes. You should get 4 bowls out of it.
**This is typically made with pigeon.  However, my grocery store doesn’t sell pigeon, and I was not about to kill any of the ones I typically see on my walk to work. That’s gross and probably illegal.
The insides
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