Celebrating Moroccan Cuisine!
This is a “Chicken Pot Pie” – Moroccan style!
One of the goals of my “52 In 22” cooking challenge is to go around the world to try new cuisines, and since I was given this cookbook as a gift, it was time to cook Moroccan!
Chef Mourad Lahlou released an incredible cookbook that highlights the rich history and cuisine of his native Morocco!
For week #19 of my “52 In 22” cooking challenge, I tried one of his delicious Moroccan recipes – a classic “Basteeya!”
This is Chef’s photo of his “Basteeya”, what Chef Mourad says is the most traditional dish in Morocco: it’s their version of a “Chicken Pot Pie”, but it’s so much more!
As he describes it:
“On paper, this dish sounds odd, because it’s so sweet and so savory. You’ve got saffron-and-spice-braised chicken, lots of cinnamon-sugar toasted almonds perfumed with orange blossom water, and offs scrambled in the braising liquid, all layers inside a shell of flaky pastry and topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon.”
WOW! Let’s cook it!
There are three different steps to the dish: the beginning is easy, combining all of the seasonings that are used in the dish.
1/4 cup ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 cinnamon stock, 3″ long
2-1/2 teaspoons saffron threads
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
This is easy. Combine these spices and set aside!
Next, let’s make the almond mixture that gives this dish a nutty sweetness!
This savory and sweet almond mixture will be used as part of the filling in the pot pie.
2-1/2 cups whole “skin on” almonds
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
4-6 tablespoons clarified butter
1-1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
9 phyllo sheets
Blend the almonds until they are dust-like, then add all of the other ingredients: sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. I held off on adding the clarified butter until we are ready to add the mixture to the dish.
So there you go: all of your flavors are ready to go, so it’s time to tackle the main course!
Next up, let’s make the chicken and egg mixture. This forms the filling of the basteeya.
Here are your ingredients:
2 cups grapeseed or canola oil
8 cups onion – about 3-4 whole onions….yes indeed!
1/2- cup minced garlic
6 chicken thighs
6 chicken drumsticks
1-1/4 cup water
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons parsley and the same amount cilantro
The star of the dish is chicken…but first we have to make a place for it! Saute the onion in olive oil for ten minutes, then put in all of those great spices we blended together earlier…
After the mixture has combined and cooked for ten minutes, put your chicken pieces on top, add a cup of water and cover and let simmer for an hour.
I moved the pieces every ten minutes, turning them over and letting the spices infuse the chicken…see those saffron threads slinging to the chicken? When cooked, take the chicken pieces out and set aside.
We are heading into the home stretch now!
Pre-heat your oven to 325 – oh, the day before I made this dish, my oven decided to stop working – it’s gas and it kept shutting off after a minute or two – so I was fearing that my oven might not work!
More on this in a moment!
After turning on your oven, simmer the onion spice sauce that you just cooked the chicken in, letting it reduce a bit and use an immersion blender to mix four large eggs:
The blender will make sure there are no clumps of egg white…pour your eggs into the mixture and stir it well over low heat….this egg mixture will form the bottom of the dish – which becomes the top after cooking!
I’ll explain what I mean in a moment, but now that all of the individual elements are ready to assemble – time to bring out the Phyllo!
Lay a folded sheet of Phyllo slightly off-center of the pan, with about 3 inches of overhang…do it again – it should take 4 sheets to completely encase the bottom like this:
Next, brush the bottom and side with a bit of butter clarified butter to keep the phyllo moist.
Take a cup of your egg mixture and spread it across the bottom, then add some of your chicken chunks…then add some clarified butter to your almond mixture and put it on top of the chicken like this…
After filling the “basteeya”, you take those overhanging ends of phyllo dough and encase the pie!
Paint the top with more butter and put it in the oven for a half hour or so…keep an eye on it as it gets toasty quickly…then, it was all about how to take it out!
Well, I was very frustrated that I stopped filming because when I flipped the dish, it came out easily!
Here it is before I flipped it – and here’s what it looked like after I flipped it!
I was very happy with how it looked, no leakage at all!
Now, it was just about dusting the top with powdered sugar and this Moroccan “Basteeya” was ready for its closeup!
Remember when I said that the egg mixture, put in on the bottom, was now on top? That’s because we flipped the dish after cooking….so the egg mixture soaked into the chicken and the almonds – and it was delicious!
This Moroccan “Basteeya” AKA “Chicken Pot Pie” was savory and sweet as well! The spices gave it a very moroccan feel, with cinnamon and nutmeg helping the almond flavor pop, and of course the saffron was rich and gave the chicken an enhanced flavor as well…add that powdered sugar as a sweet finish and the dish came together beautifully – and presented nicely as well!
Thanks for Chef Mourad Lahlou for a terrific, traditional Moroccan dish – I’ve had a blast cooking food from different cultures, like when I made a traditional “Tiffin” dish!
These stuffed Eggplant rolls are a great vegan dish that you can take with you anywhere!
Click here for the recipe!
My “Basteeya” wasn’t the first unique pie I’ve made this year as part of my “52 In 22” cooking challenge:
Chef Callum Franklin makes a savory “Duck Pancetta Cabbage Mustard” pie and so I made it as well!
Click here for the recipe:
While these recipes are challenging to a degree, nothing compared to my attempt to make Chef Thomas Keller’s “Sous Vide Lobster” dish:
This may have been the most beautiful thing I’ve cooked in 2022, but it was a multi-day experience – click here to see why!
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