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Moroccan Bastilla

2 lbs chicken breast (pigeon/squab is more authentic, or try cornish hens)
lemon juice
1 1/2 cup almonds
6 eggs
10 sheets phyllo dough
1 stick melted butter
Powdered sugar

Poach chicken in water to cover with 1-2 teaspoons each of cinnamon,
ground ginger and cumin. Add 1/2 teaspoon saffron (or tumeric if
you don't use saffron).

Meanwhile, toast almonds, chop and mix with 1/3-1/2 cup sugar and
1 tablespoon cinnamon. Put aside.

Remove chicken, shred when cool enough to handle.

Reduce broth severely and add 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

Beat eggs till frothy and add to broth. Cook until broth evaporates
and eggs look scrambled. The eggs should not be wet.

Remove from heat.

Have the chicken, almonds & eggs ready before you pull out the
phyllo. Phyllo dries out easily, follow the directions on the
package for thawing and handling.

I use a cast iron skillet (10-12 inch) to bake the Bastilla, but
any round, heavy casserole would work as well.

Melt 1 stick butter or margarine. Using pastry brush butter pan.
Place 6 phyllo sheet in pan overlapping all around. I usually put
1 left-right; 1 up-down, 1 each diagonal direction, then the last
two up-down & left- right. Fold an additional 2 phyllo sheets into
a square and place in bottom of pan for support. You should be
buttering each sheet as you go. At this point you should have
phyllo hanging over the edge of your pan all the way around.

Spread almond mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Layer 1/2
the eggs all the chicken and the remaining eggs.

Fold an additional 2 sheets of phyllo and put over the eggs. Fold
the original 6 sheets of phyllo in, over the 2 folded pieces.
Additional butter may be needed to ensure that phyllo sticks

Bake at 425F for 20-30 minutes, until phyllo is brown and crispy.

Invert onto serving plate, sprinkle top with powdered sugar.

Bastillia is traditionally eaten with the fingers as an appetizer.

The filling can be very hot and it is also traditional to make
holes in the top with your index finger to release steam and cool
the Bastilla. (This is done after presentation to the table.) I
usually do this with a chopstick as soon as the Bastilla is removed
from the oven, so that it is at serving temperature when placed on
the table.

This recipe serves 6-8 as an appetizer and 2-4 as a main course.


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