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B’stila Moroccan Chicken & Nut Pie

  • 1/2 lb almonds, blanched
  • oil, as needed
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, small cubed
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • pinch saffron
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 pkg filo sheets
  • 1 cube butter, melted

Brown almonds in a little oil until golden. Chop coarsely. Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and honey or sugar to sweeten to taste. Set aside.

Heat butter in a large heavy pot. Add minced onion and saute‚ for a few minutes. Add chicken cut in small pieces, along with pepper, saffron, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, parsley, cilantro, and salt to taste. Simmer until the chicken is done.

Beat two eggs and slowly stir them into the sauce. Remove from heat. Have ready filo sheets, melted butter (at least 1/4 lb), and a pastry brush.

Select a shallow pan about 8″ in diameter, such as a cast iron skillet. What you basically want to do is construct a pie by layering the filo sheets in the pan and then folding them over the contents.

Brush one of the sheets with melted butter, and put it, butter side up, in the bottom of the pan, the excess dangling over the side.

Add another sheet, at an angle to the first, and repeat so that you have filo covering the bottom of the pan and dangling out all around. Use about 5 sheets to form this layer. Repeat the process, forming another layer.

Pour the chicken and sauce into the pan. Put several more buttered sheets on top of the chicken, this time not overlapping the edge–use smaller pieces or fold them in half.

Spread the nut mixture on top of this. Put another layer or so of filo, then fold the dangling ends over the top so as to close the envelope.

Brush the top with butter.Place in a 350° oven for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden: flip it onto an oven-proof plate and return to brown the other side, 30-40 minutes total.

Place on a serving platter, sprinkle with powdered sugar, then make fanciful decorative designs with ground cinnamon.

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