Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Welcome to Morrocco-bama

A few weekends ago Mrblocko and I were fortunate enough to be without the shorty short pants for a night. Since we both enjoy cooking, we thought cooking a complicated dish would be a good way to spend some quality time together. Usually, it's me cooking in the kitchen while Mrblocko entertains Blockette. It was nice to be able to cook together without interruptions from the munchkin. Then there was the added bonus of not having hear complaints about how Blockette didn't like the "new weird dish."

Mrblocko and I settled on a dish called bastilla which I found on the blog Pete bakes! This dish is originally from Morocco. Mrblocko and I are not familiar with Moroccan food, and we had never had or heard of Bastilla before, so this dish was an especially risky meal. Especially risky, as I didn't have a back up plan in case things went terribly wrong. Thankfully that didn't happen.

There were lots of steps to this dish, so the potential for disaster was definitely there. The first step is to boil your chicken. The recipe stated to cover the chicken completely, but it also said to use 3 cups of stock. We must have had jumbo chicken breasts because it took 4 cups to cover the chicken completely. It was a good thing that I happened to have exactly that amount in the freezer.

Boiling the chicken turns it the most wonderful yellow color. I was surprised that the yellow color didn't penetrate through the whole chicken breast. This is one time that my camera that is usually heavy on the yellow, didn't show enough of the yellow. The chicken actually looked more golden than this picture below portrays.

After the chicken is boiled, you remove it from the stock and then boil the heck out of the stock to reduce it. We boiled ours for about 30 minutes and it was super thick. The recipe tells you to only use a 1/3 cup of this sauce. The stuff smelled so good, and there was about a cup left so I stuck that in the freezer. I'm sure that I can think of something to use that condensed goodness in. Perhaps in a soup base? I'm open to suggestions!

The recipe wasn't exactly clear as to what size pan to use when laying out the phyllo sheets. We finally came to the decision to use a large oven safe skillet.

Also, we doubled up on the phyllo. Wherever the recipe called for one sheet, we used two. This seemed to make the crust a little more stable. Even after using twice the amount required in the recipe, we only used a half of a box of phyllo. Now I've gotta find a use for that other half a box of phyllo dough. Darn!

I didn't butter between the doubled up sheets, and I wished that I had. The phyllo would have crisped up a bit better on the inside of the pie. I had already used more butter in the brushing process than the recipe suggested. The only brush we have is more of a barbecue brush. I couldn't get a thin coat of butter without tearing the phyllo to shreds.

Here is what the Bastilla looked like direct from the oven. Note to self. Do not turn plastic cutting board over the top of a hot pan. It will melt little marks from the edge of the pan into your cutting board. Good thing the cutting board is reverseable!
Here's the end product sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Don't skimp on either one. The sweet and spice from the cinnamon and sugar complement the savory spices in the chicken. Here's a glimpse into the inside of the Bastilla. It was really good. There were a ton of leftovers though. Surprisingly, Blockette saw me eating it the next day and wanted a taste. Then she wanted her own slice. Thumbs up from the munchkin! Full of surprises that one is.

Bastilla From Pete Bakes
2 lbs chicken breast
3 cups chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp fresh parsley
1 cinnamon stick
salt and pepper
6 eggs
2/3 cup almonds
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 pckg phyllo dough
2 Tbsp butter, melted
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Place chicken breasts in a large saucepan and pour in just enough broth to cover them. add the onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cilantro, parsley, cinnamon stick and salt and pepper. bring to a boil and cook for about 30 min.

Toast almonds with a few drops of veg oil, then mix in a food processor with sugar and 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon. set aside.

Remove chicken from the stock and set aside to cool. Severely reduce the stock to a thick sauce. remove the cinnamon stick. Beat eggs in a separate bowl, then cook in a skillet with 1/3 c thickened broth/sauce. Set aside.

Shred cooled chicken. Add to egg mix. Make sure mix is not too wet or will soak through the phyllo dough.

Thaw phyllo dough. In lg oven-proof skillet/large round pan, layer 6 sheets of phylo, brushing each layer with melted butter. Sheets should drape over the sides of the pan. Fold 2 sheets of phyllo in half and place in the center for stability.

Place 1/2 almond mix in middle of pan, shape into rough circle with hands. Add shredded chicken/egg mix. Top with remaining almond mix. Fold another 2 sheets of phyllo in half and place on top.

Fold overlapped phyllo from bottom over top of bastilla. Brush with melted butter to make sure everything sticks together. Bake at 425 F for 20 min, til phyllo brown and crisp. Invert onto a large baking sheet. dust with confectioners’ sugar and decorate with remaining 1 T cinnamon.

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