Egypt // B'stilla // Egyptian Poultry Pie

Earlier this week, we celebrated Pie Day with a major sugar hit.  But there are so many kinds of fillings to be stuffed in between crusts before being stuffed in your face.  Apparently, it's actually kind of a thing everywhere in the world.  And after trying tahini and aish baladi from Egypt, I figured we should try something a little more meaty and substantial to round out our experience.

B'stilla (I really love saying that word for some reason) actually originated in Morocco as a pigeon pie a long, long time ago, but has traveled around the region (as good food ideas seem to do) and become just as much a part of Egypt's standard fare.  

Thankfully the filling requirements have broadened too, including all kinds of poultry and even the occasional beef or pork.  I mean, when was the last time you found pigeon in the poultry section at the grocery store?

This is kind of like chicken pot pie, with saffron and a major crust upgrade.  I'd actually never worked with phyllo before, and now I am in love.  Seriously.  I have another roll I'm hoarding n my freezer, and my mind is plotting and planning how to use it best, because obviously it would be way to hard to just go to the grocery and buy more.  But it takes the whole flaky crust thing to the next level.  See exhibit A:

I let too much liquid from the filling get in the crust, which made the bottom soggy. It was still still a fabulous mix of flavors and textures, but a crispy bottom crust would have taken it to the next level.  So don't be like me!  At least not that way.  But do be like me and eat this. 

Chicken and Sweet Onion B'stilla

Make a 9" pie

  • 8 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs are fine)
  • 1/4 olive oil, divided
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. saffron
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

In a large, heavy pot, heat some of olive oil until very hot.  Pat the chicken piece dry and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Place a layer in the heated oil and cook on each side for 3-4 minutes, or until the outsides are are cooked golden. Remove chicken and repeat process with the rest of the oil and chicken until it is all seared. It may not be cooked through, depending on the thickness of your pieces. 

Once all of the chicken has been cooked, chop it roughly into bite sized pieces and set aside.  Melt butter in the pot and cook the onion until it is beginning to carmelize and darken.  Stir in the chopped chicken, garlic, saffron, and cinnamon.  Add the chicken stock and simmer for about an hour.  Salt and pepper to flavor.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Melt the other 6 tablespoons of butter. Brush some in a nine inch cake pan, pie plate, or spring form pan and carefully lay one sheet of phyllo in it.  Repeat with half of the phyllo sheets, brushing with butter and giving the pan a quarter turn between each layer to cover all of the sides.  

Carefully spoon chicken and onions into your pan, being sure to strain out the liquid, which will make your bottom crust soggy.  Lay a sheet of the remaining phyllo and spread with melted butter.  Repeat the quarter turn method of laying out the remaining sheets of dough, being sure to brush each layer with butter.  Gently tuck the edges that are hanging over into the sides of your pan to surround the filling.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the phyllo is golden brown and crispy.  Serve warm.

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