Friday, January 28, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - Chicken B'stilla

This week, the French Fridays with Dorie group made Chicken B'stilla, a legendary dish of Morocco, traditionally made with squab. Dorie's French version features shredded chicken, onions, garlic, a few of the spices found in the Moroccan spice blend, Ras el Hanout, chicken broth, lemon juice, eggs, honey, parsley, cilantro, and toasted almonds. The filling is comprised of these ingredients, baked inside a phyllo, or filo, dough crust. The cooked pie is lightly dusted with cinnamon sugar, sliced into wedges, and served.

This recipe requires thawing the phyllo dough in the refrigerator overnight. The chicken filling can also be made the day before; in fact, several recipes I reviewed recommend refrigerating the filling overnight. I decided to add a few more steps to the preparation by making my own Ras el Hanout spice mix. I also sauteed the onions and garlic, and browned the chicken thighs, prior to adding the broth and braising the chicken for the hour required.

I had all the spices required to make the spice mix, and now I have extra to use for as a quick seasoning on chicken or fish for future dinners.

Cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg

Ras el Hanout Moroccan Spice Blend

2 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon hot Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Generous pinch saffron threads

Combine all ingredients, use quantity called for in the recipe, and store the remaining mix in a sealed spice jar for future use.

Onions and garlic

Additional ingredients for the filling - shredded chicken thigh meat, parsley, eggs, braised onions and garlic, and toasted almonds

The phyllo is very easy to work with if, and only if, you allow it to defrost in the refrigerator over night. If you are unfamiliar with phyllo (filo), read this first before you get started.

This dish is not one to prepare after you come home from a long day at the office. There is at least an hour of preparation time, 1 hour for braising the chicken, onions, garlic and spices, and another 40 minutes for baking the pie.

Newf Notes:

I strayed from Dorie's recipe slightly by sautéing the onions and garlic, and browning the chicken thighs. I think that made a more flavorful broth and dish overall. Just because I wanted to, and had all the spices, I made my own spice blend from the recipe above (Dorie's recipe had only cinnamon, ginger, coriander, and saffron). I also used double the amount of spices called for in the recipe. I used only parsley because I didn't have cilantro on hand, and can't stand the stuff. I also added about 4 chopped, dried figs to the filling. I used 6 pieces of phyllo for the top crust, rather than 4. Although Dorie says B'stilla needs no accompaniments, we had a light salad with vinaigrette, orange supremes and toasted almonds. 

Suggested wine pairing, based on What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea - Even Water - Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers, is Sauvignon Blanc, Vin Gris, off-dry Riesling, and Rose. After the meal, Mint Tea. 

I think little phyllo triangles with this filling would be an incredible party hors d'œuvre!

This dish was wonderful, but takes time. I'm a bit exhausted, and still have dishes to do. Oh John, where are you??

And my sous chef wasn't much help either, as he snoozed on the couch, soaking in the late afternoon sun!



kitchenarian said...

I love your version of the recipe - beautiful pictures. Great post!

Jessica of My Baking Heart said...

Gorgeous photos, as always. I love all the alterations you made to the recipe - sounds yummy! :)

t.t. for spoonables said...

All your suggestions sounds brilliant! Definitely will try them the next time I make the dish. Thanks for the ideas!

KB said...

The photos are amazing. And thanks for the spice ideas!

Cher said...

Great idea on the hors d'oeurves. Lovely post - like the look of it in the pie plate!

Lexi said...

It looks gorgeous in the pie plate! I'm assembling mine tonight, and think I might do the same thing.

Creating Amazing Meals said...

Looks great! Lovely photography!

Kat said...

I love your ideas for the enhanced flavoring! And your photos, as always, totally rock!

lola said...

Love your pictures! Do you take your photos indoors? However you do it you have great light!

Anonymous said...

A relaxing day of cooking never hurts. :) The ras el hanout will come in handy for so many dishes to come!

Elaine said...

Love your sous chef! I wish I had as easy a time as you did with the phyllo even though I did defrost it overnight it still tore on me. I am going to try it again though because I really enjoyed making and eating this dish. Yours is beautiful and I really like it it that pie dish. Thank you for your notes!

Carolyn Jung said...

Wow! That is one loaded b'stilla. I've never attempted making my own, but have much enjoyed eating it time and again in my fave Moroccan restaurant in San Francisco. I have Dorie's book, so there's no excuse not to give it a try now, especially when yours came out sooooo gorgeous!

Anne-Marie said...

I love your dog!!!

Kris' Kitchen said...

Beautiful that you made it in a pie dish. And I wish I had added cayenne pepper or a bit more was good but could have been even better.

Carmen said...

What a great dish! And the spices look so comforting. As always, great photography!

bunkycooks said...

Hi Denise,

The dish and your photos are lovely. I like the changes you made to the recipe. I am sure it was delicious.

Your dishwasher and sous chef sound about like mine at this house. Forget about it!

See you soon!!!


Karen said...

First of all, your sous chef is adorable! Second, I am completely impressed by the spice mix. Third, your photos are lovely! :) Glad you liked this!

Mom said...

Loved the sweet/savory robust flavors of the Chicken B’stilla and the amazing aroma your Ras El Hanout spice mix made! That beautiful presentation with the crackly-brown flaky phyllo dusted with the confectioner’s sugar design was fabulous and captured so well with the great photography. Looks like you and your sous chef had a wonderful day creating this delectable combination!

Allison said...

Denise - I just adore your photography and writing! I've awarded you a Stylish Blogger Award on my blog. Play along as much as you'd like. You rock sista!

I love your idea of making hors d'oeurves out of the Chicken B'stilla. Genius!

Anonymous said...

Good for you for making your own spice blend. Your variations sound great. And making appetizer versions of these would make one very popular at a potluck!

Anonymous said...

your dog is awesome! ... You liked this? I struggled with liking this... I wanted to, but just didnt in the end. I just made this, this week as a catch up recipe. How much time do you spend framing your shots? They are pretty!