I picked this recipe for January’s Cook the Books challenge because it really looked like a challenge!
This recipe turned into my Sunday project! Marinating the chicken took up most of the afternoon. And then making the chicken filling was a two-step process – first cooking the chicken in broth and then making a custardy sauce from the remaining broth. I thought I was in the homestretch when the filling was done, ….but I hadn’t accounted for the darn phyllo dough! I didn’t realize that the frozen phyllo sheets had to be defrosted before use. By the time I realized my error, I had already wasted one perfectly good roll of phyllo! Anyway, it was 9PM at this point and I didn’t have the 2 hours required to defrost the remaining phyllo. So I just popped it into the microwave for 30 seconds and hoped for the best. Well, it worked …sort of. The sheets didn’t peel off cleanly but I did the best I could with the few pieces I could salvage.
In the end, it did look very pretty and it was only around 10:30PM before we sat down for dinner. However, I am not so sure it was worth all the time and effort though. Of course, it will go more quickly the next time round but I do think I would make a few tweaks to the recipe. I would definitely amp up the spice level. Initially, I was impressed by the ginger, coriander and cinnamon in the recipe and thought it would be very reminiscent of an indian curry…but not really! I think this recipe would taste even better replacing the honey with cayenne pepper and curry powder. But those are just my Indian roots speaking!
So here’s the recipe (with detailed pictures at the bottom) – Modified from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table
Yields 6 servings
8 chicken thighs (boneless will do fine)
2 large onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 tsp ground ginger or 1 tbsp of fresh grated ginger
3/4 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp of curry powder (optional)
1 tsp of cayenne (optional)
A pinch of saffron
2 1/2 cups of chicken broth (You can substitute water here but just make sure you add more salt in the end!)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs
2 tbsp honey (skip this if you don’t really like your chicken on the sweet side!)
1 tbsp of chopped cilantro
1 tbsp of chopped fresh parsley (optional)
8 sheets of phyllo (9 x 14 inches)
A few tablespoons of melted butter or ghee
2 to 3 oz of sliced almonds
Cinnamon sugar for dusting (optional)
A 9 inch or 10 inch round cake pan
- Mix the chicken thighs, onions, garlic and spices in a large pot and let it marinate for at least an hour.
- Now is a good time to start defrosting your frozen phyllo sheets!
- Add the broth (or water) and a teaspoon of salt to the pot containing the chicken and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot and simmer the chicken in broth for an hour. At this point, the chicken should be tender enough to shred.
- Take out the cooked chicken thighs from the pot and keep them in a separate pot. Strain the remaining broth to separate the liquid from the onions.
- Shred the chicken once it has cooled down and mix it with the onion mixture.
- Pour the separated (or clear) broth back into the pot or a medium saucepan. Whisk in the lemon juice and boil the broth at a high heat till you have only a cup of liquid left in the pot. Reduce the heat to low.
- Beat the eggs with honey (if you are using) in a separate bowl. Slowly whisk the egg-honey mixture into the broth, whisking all the while. Keep whisking for five minutes or so, till the sauce thickens to a custardy texture. Take the pot off the heat and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in the chicken-onion mixture along with the cilantro and parsley. Your filling is now complete!!
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Separate the phyllo sheets and place one sheet inside the cake pan. Brush the sheet with butter or ghee. Place the next layer in the opposite directions and continue this process with two more sheets. The sheets will be falling over the edge of the pan. These will be tucked in the end.
- Sprinkle the almonds and spoon in the chicken filling evenly across the cake pan. Top with more almonds. Cover with four more sheets of phyllo dough (in the same way as described in the previous step). The excess phyllo dough falling over the edge, can either be cut out or tucked in. The goal is to make sure the filling is completely covered on all sides!
- Dust the top with cinnamon sugar and put it into the oven.
- After 20 minutes, reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes.
- Let the b’stilla cool for five minutes before flipping onto a serving platter.
- Serve the b’stilla warm, cutting into wedges. Sriracha goes well with it!
Here are the pictures!