Moroccan Bastilla/Pastille

What to do with all your leftover chicken from festive meals?

This savory-sweet pie from the Moroccan kitchen has deep Sephardic roots and belongs on your table this holiday season. Follow along with Ilana to make this simplified version, using one pan and your leftovers!

  • 1kg onions, diced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons ras el hanout spice blend
  • 70g (½ cup) dates, pitted, finely chopped
  • 1 medium pre-roasted chicken (about 2kg), shredded
  • 70 g (½ cup) pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 x 20g packet flat-leaf parsley, stalks and leaves finely chopped
  • 1 x 20g packet coriander, stalks and leaves finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons clear honey
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Filo pastry 4 or more sheets
  • ½ cup olive oil, melted margarine for brushing the sheets of filo
  • icing sugar or superfine sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a cast-iron skillet, or a round 20cm/8 inch baking tin, set aside.

Fry the onions in olive oil in a large frying pan set over a medium heat, stirring regularly to encourage them to caramelize and prevent burning. Once they are brown (not burnt!) and sticky, add the dry spices, and dates and stir the mixture well. Cook until fragrant. Lower the heat all the way.

Add the shredded chicken into the pan of fried onions, along with the pine nuts, parsley, and coriander and mix together. Add the honey and give everything another good mix. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Slowly add up to ½ a cup of cold water, mixing until the water has been absorbed and the mixture has loosened up a bit, you want to create a kind of sauce, so the chicken mixture isn’t dry.

Lay the opened packet of phyllo pastry on the table. Carefully peel off the first sheet and use a brush to grease it, then fold into four and set aside (this folded square will give a thicker base to the pastilla). Peel off the next sheet and grease it, cover with another sheet and set aside. Repeat with two more sheets, so that you have two sheets of double thickness.

Place one doubled sheet lengthways in the tin, put the folded square in the center of it and lay the other doubled sheet on top at 90° to the first sheet, to make a cross-shape that is thickest in the middle. Let it line the tin or pan with the sides of the pastry hanging over the edge. Fill with the chicken mixture and fold the corners over to cover it. Brush the top of the pastry with the remaining grease and place in the center of the oven for 15 minutes. After this time, turn the tin around so that the bastilla cooks evenly, and bake for a further 10–15 minutes or until the pastry is all golden and crisp.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon while still hot. Serve.