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bastilla

Moroccan Chicken Bastilla

BY Renette Vosloo

The surprising sweet-powdered sugar-dusted finish and cinnamon trellis design over the crust wins me over every time.

  • Makes : 2-4 |
  • Difficulty:

  • Prep Time : 45 mins |
  • Cook Time : 1:20 hours
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1 x 1.2 kg whole Elgin Free-Range chicken

2 large onions, peeled and diced

2 tsp (10 ml) turmeric

2 tsp (10 ml) paprika

2.5-cm piece fresh root ginger, skin on and cut into strips and then finely chopped

1 tsp (5 ml) ground coriander

1 tsp (5 ml) ground cumin

1 tsp (5 ml) salt

1 tsp (5 ml) white pepper

100 g blanched almonds

10 tsp (50 ml) olive oil

1/1 cup (125 ml) icing sugar

zest of 1 orange

4 free-range extra-large eggs

1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped

10 tsp (50 ml) ground cinnamon

100 g butter

1 roll phyllo pastry, thawed to room temperature

Quarter the chicken and remove the wings and skin from the larger parts. Place the chicken pieces and the onions in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add all the spices and cover with the lid. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 45 minutes (don’t add any liquid).

Remove the chicken pieces, leaving the onions and the cooking juices in the pan on the heat and continue to cook the onions, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the onions form an ‘oily’ mass in the pan.

When the chicken pieces are cool enough to handle, but still warm, debone them and mix half the cooked onions with the meat. Keep the chicken and onion mixture and the remaining onions to one side.

While the chicken is cooking, fry the almonds over medium heat in the olive oil until light golden brown. Quickly remove the almonds from the hot oil and place onto a paper towel to drain, then transfer to a blender and roughly chop. Mix the chopped almonds with half the icing sugar and the orange zest. Keep to one side.

To make the scrambled egg filling, whisk the 4 eggs in a bowl and add the fresh coriander. Add the egg and coriander mixture to the remaining half of the cooked onions in the saucepan. Cook over low heat to a very soft, runny scrambled egg consistency. Do not cook the eggs very dry at this stage as it will render a dry filling to your bastilla.

Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Line a 20 cm round cake tin with plastic wrap and grease a baking tray with butter.

Unroll the thawed phyllo pastry sheets and cover with a damp tea towel. Melt the butter and liberally apply it to the plastic wrap in the cake tin with a pastry brush.

Place 1 sheet of phyllo pastry into the cake tin over the plastic wrap, letting the sides hang over, and brush liberally with some melted butter. Cut another sheet of phyllo pastry into 2 pieces down the middle and lay 1 sheet over the first buttered sheet in the pan. Place the almond filling onto this layer. Cover with the other half sheet of pastry. Place the deboned chicken onto this layer and cover with the scrambled egg filling. Fold the overhanging pastry over the middle. Lift the bastilla out of the pan with the plastic wrap, turning it over onto the buttered baking tray, so that the folded side is at the bottom. Remove the plastic wrap. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.

Remove the cooked Bastilla from the oven, serve immediately while still hot and dust it with the remaining icing sugar using a sieve. Pinch some ground cinnamon between your fingers and sprinkle it to ‘draw’ lines over the bastilla diagonally to create a trellis design. Serve immediately with lemon-scented couscous.

Tip: You can wrap the Bastilla in cling film and place it in the refrigerator to be cooked the next day. Just follow the baking instructions.