I often cook with dried fruit. Mangoes, pears, figs, dates and golden apricots mostly find home sweet home in one of my sweet or even savory concoctions. Lamb, poultry and pork, all fare well with the enhancement of these sweet fruity flavors, as do cookies and loaves. This evening I took it a step further and paired a Moroccan chicken pie with a dried plum I normally disregard...the prune.
So why prunes? I will be honest in my answer. You see, I had my selfish reasons, at first. Prune Thursday was cooked up by the one and only David Lebovitz. He is the awe-inspiring author of Room For Dessert and The Great Book of Chocolate. It would only be beneficial to be part of his blogging event.
And then I made Basteeya Pie.
It was at first bite, I realized, food was the biggest reward. That and catching the attention of a few people tucked away in different places around the globe who may have been searching the web for something different. In truth, I myself wanted to experience another culture far from the comforts of my own. And all it costs was the ingredients for a Basteeya pie
Basteeya is a Moroccan chicken pie.
Like many Moroccan dishes, the sweet and the savory is evident. As I read through this Cristine Cushing gem, it reminded me of a baklava recipe that had somehow been glued together with the pages for the directions to a lighter chicken pot pie. How else could you explain cinnamon, almonds and icing sugar scattered between soft buttery layers of phyllo dough, placed in a 10" pie dish and filled with a curry, Thai chili chicken leg meat mix and topped with the infamous prune? I know I have just created the world's longest run on sentence but I find it necessary to describe this fantastic dish in one breath.
This meal took no time at all and after consuming such an exotic collection of layers, you're likely to want to Rock the Casbah. A recipe even Shareef will like!
Thank-you David Lebovitz for challenging me to try different ingredients. Your books, blog and words are truly inspirational!
2 tbsp olive oil (30 ml)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 x small Thai chile or chile flakes, to taste
1 x cinnamon stick
1 tsp good quality Madras Curry powder (5 ml)
1 tsp fresh chopped ginger (5 ml)
1 tsp grated lemon zest (5 ml)
4 x cooked chicken legs, bones removed
2 x pitted prunes, chopped
1/4 cup spicy green olives, diced (60 ml)
1/2 cup chicken stock (125 ml)
juice of ½ lemon
Coarse salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1 tbsp icing sugar (15 ml)
2 tbsp whole toasted almonds (30 ml)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (2 ml)
1/3 cup melted butter or olive oil (75 ml)
8 sheets phyllo
1 x egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (30 ml)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Brush a 10-inch pie dish with some melted butter.
In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chile, cinnamon stick, curry powder, ginger, lemon zest and chicken and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the prunes, olives, stock, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, without stirring, for 10 minutes. Remove lid and simmer for a further 5 minutes, or until liquid has evaporated. Let cool completely.
Meanwhile, pulse icing sugar, cinnamon and almonds in food processor until coarsely chopped.
On a work surface, arrange a sheet of phyllo. (Keep remaining phyllo under damp tea towel.) Brush phyllo with butter. Lay in the middle of pie dish allowing excess phyllo to hang over edge. Repeat with 4 more sheets of phyllo.
Stir beaten egg and coriander into chicken mixture. Spoon chicken mixture into prepared pie dish. Fold the phyllo pieces that are hanging over the edge of the pie dish, one at a time into middle of pie, sprinkling some of the almond mixture between each layer.
Butter 1 piece of phyllo and sprinkle with some of the almond mixture. Place over filling and tuck in any overhang. Repeat with remaining phyllo and almond mixture. (Do these one by one, not stacked together, to achieve a light, blossomy top.)
Bake for 20 minutes until top is browned and crisp. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges.