Sunday, June 5, 2011

Chicken B'Stilla

Chicken B'Stilla (pg 222) is a lot of work, but that didn't bother me, because the instructions made it pretty clear that it would take hours. The sweet elements of this recipe intrigued me from the first time I scanned it, because I couldn't imagine how this lightly sweetened chicken would work. Usually, when chicken is sweet--bbq sauce, sweet and sour chicken, etc.--it's overwhelmingly sweet. This recipe seemed more subtle.

First, you marinate chicken thighs and onion with garlic, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, and saffron. The most time-consuming part of that was skinning the thighs. Then you just let the whole pot sit at room temp for an hour.

Add broth and boil it for an hour. No trouble there.

Once the chicken is falling off the bones, you shred it and make a sauce with the cooked-down broth by adding eggs and honey and whisking until it is thick. Mix the chicken and onions back into the sauce, and it's ready to go in the filo crust.

Ah, the filo crust. What a pain. I'm used to working with filo because I've made streudel with my mom since I was little, so I don't allow the inevitable tears and imperfection bother me. Still, I always feel like I'm holding my breath for the entire time that I'm handling the sheets. In a cake pan, you layer buttered sheets of filo to make a crust, add a layer of toasted almond, pour the chicken glop in, layer more almonds, and add a top filo crust. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Then you bake it for 40 minutes. So, even if you don't factor in the time it will take you to actually handle and prep the ingredients, this recipe takes a minimum of two hours, forty minutes.
Looking at it, you'd never guess that this took all day to make.
I enjoyed this dish. (Alleluia! There would have been a meltdown if I spent all day cooking it and it tasted like crap.) It wasn't too sweet, which was good. A heavy hand with the spices could have caused problems with this one,. The flavors were subtle, but present. Even Charlie ate some. He never eats chicken (or any meat, really). Matt shrugged and said it was just okay. I think part of the problem is that he got home from work late, so the filo was soggy instead of crispy by the time he ate it.

Conclusion: Liked it, though I'll probably never make it again, just because it's too much work not to result in mind-blowing deliciousness.


  1. Glad you enjoyed it! I'm in the same boat. I probably won't make it again because the effort put in doesn't necessarily match the taste that comes out.

  2. this the national dish of morrocco - though it is usually made with pigeon there.

  3. I did not know that. I'd be curious to taste an authentic Moroccan version (that someone else spent the day making) and see how similar/different it is.

  4. Sounds like a lot of trouble for a ho hum kind of dish. Nice to try it though, you'll never know otherwise :) Well done!

  5. check this out ( hopefully link will work)