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.
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!