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Saturday, February 07, 2009


Seasonal Recipe of the Week
Moroccan Pastilla is a dish I learned about 35 years ago when I started cooking in a kitchen in the East Village called “Montana Palace.” This place was a catering kitchen and production bakery doing really innovative foods from around the world, in 1975 no less. This dish is quite simply a show stopper and no one ever makes, it because it is a bit of work but I say, aren’t your friends worth it? Traditionally this dish is made with Pigeon but I use turkey leg meat, which is all dark and rich and delicious and cheap. It is also traditionally made in a round pan and dusted with powdered sugar on the top in festive patterns. This recipe is done in a rectangular pan. It's up to you!

2 pounds chicken thighs (or 4 turkey legs)
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
12 parsley sprigs
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon tumeric
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 eggs
2 cups almonds, blanched, browned on the stove
1 pound Phyllo pastry dough
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1 pound of clarified butter

In a large pot, cook chicken with salt, pepper, tumeric, cumin, and ginger along with enough water to cover. Cook on medium low heat covered until chicken is soft and falling from the bones. Remove from liquid, skin and debone the chicken, and cut meat into small pieces, chop in the parsley and set aside.

In same large pot, (drain the liquid) and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil then add the six eggs one by one, beating as you go. When all are beaten in and almost set, remove mixture and let cool, dividing into two parts. Chop the browned almonds and divide into two. Lightly butter your 9 by 12 baking dish and then start the assembly process.

Begin the assembly by placing four sheets of the phyllo dough, brushing butter over each sheet before placing the next on top. Next, place in 1/2 the egg mixture and sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top. Place two more phyllo sheets (with butter between), and place 1/2 the chicken. Sprinkle this with sugar and cinnamon too. Next Place 2 more phyllo sheets (with butter between), and place 1/2 the almond mixture in, sprinkling with sugar and cinnamon on top. Cover this with 2 more phiyllo sheets, and start this assembly process again. Two sheets phyllo, almonds, two sheets phyllo, chicken, two sheets phyllo, eggs, two sheets phyllo. Brush the top of the last sheets of phyllo with beaten egg. Bake at 350 degrees until golden, 25-35 minutes.

If you make this in a round pan, you can turn it out onto beautiful festive platter and dust the top with powdered sugar. I get a doily and dust the sugar over that to create a beautiful pattern. Or you can serve it in the pan. With a beautiful salad and a side of couscous you have it made. This will easily serve 8 people.