Pastilla is a rich phyllo-dough pie, once filled with pigeon, but today generally features chicken.  This recipe is from the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food by Gil Marks, an amazing trove of culinary delights!  This recipe is traditionally served on Sukkot in Morocco because it’s easy to serve out in the Sukkah.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Chicken Layer:

¼ cup vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground black pepper or 12 whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon saffron strands, crumbled
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
About 5 pounds chicken cut in 1/8ths
4 cups chicken broth or water
½ to 1 cup chopped fresh flat- leaf parsley or cilantro, or ½ cup each
6 large eggs, well beaten

Almond Layer:

1 2/3 cups (8 ounces) blanched almonds, toasted (or deep-fried in peanut oil) and cooled
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1½ teaspoons orange-blossom water or 1 tablespoon rose water (optional)

10 sheets phyllo dough or warka
About ¾ cup vegetable oil or melted margarine
About 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling
1 to 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon for sprinkling

To make the chicken layer:

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the ginger, pepper, coriander, turmeric, saffron, and cinnamon and sauté for 1 minute. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Add the broth and parsley. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until tender, about 40 minutes.

2. Remove the chicken. Strain the cooking liquid. You can reserve the solids and add to the reduced liquid or discard the solids. Place the cooking liquid over high heat and reduce to about 1 cup, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the meat from the bones and shred; you should have about 5 cups.

3. Whisk the reduced liquid into the eggs. If desired, add the strained cooking solids. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let cool.

To make the almond layer:

4. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, finely grind the almonds, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the oil and, if using, orange-blossom water. Set aside.

5. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a 10- or 11- inch round baking dish, springform pan, or ovenproof skillet.

6. Line the prepared dish with a sheet of phyllo, draping the excess over the edge.  Brush lightly with oil.  Repeat layering and brushing with 5 more sheets, draping each in a different direction.  Spread one-third of the egg mixture over the pastry in the pan.  mix another one-third of the egg mixture with the shredded chicken and pack into the pie. Spread the remaining egg mixture over the pastry in the pan.  Mix another one-third of the gg mixture with the shredded chicken and pack into the pie.  Spread the remaining egg mixture over top, then sprinkle with the almond mixture.  Fold the pastry edges toward the center of the pie.  Top with the remaining 4 sheets of phyllo, brushing each with oil, and tuck in the edges.

7. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Lightly sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, then sprinkle lines of cinnamon to form a diamond pattern.  Let stand at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes before cutting into wedges.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tia says:

    Can you make this ahead or freeze it?

    1. Anna Hanau says:

      I haven’t tried, but I expect it would freeze quite well. Let us know if you try it and how it goes!

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