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Moroccan Pigeon or Chicken in Pastry: Pastilla #4 - meat

Posted by : Lita Lotzkar

This dish is made of fine layers of almost transparent pastry (called
"waarka") and is stuffed with pigeon and almonds.


(for about 12 people)
      8 pigeons or 2 chickens (about 2 Kgs /4 lbs 6 oz of meat)
      3 full soup bowls of chopped parsley
      1,5 Kgs (3 lbs 5 oz) of onions
      8 eggs

      1 teaspoonful of cinnamon
      1,5 teaspoonful of saffron (crushed saffron flowers)
      300 grs (11 oz) of almonds (and oil to fry them)
      1 cup of sugar
      Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the pigeons/chicken and put whole in a thick-bottomed saucepan with the
salt, chopped parsley, grated onions, pepper, saffron, cinnamon and sugar. Add
water later only if there is no liquid left before the pigeons are cooked.
Cook on a medium heat, stirring from time to time.

Take the pigeons out when cooked, removing any stuffing that may have got
inside. Allow the stuffing to cook longer stirring constantly until all the
water has evaporated. Add the eight eggs beaten, and pour over, stirring all
the time, then remove from the heat. Cut up the pigeon meat. Skin the almonds
and fry in oil until they begin to colour, turn into a strainer.

Crush coarsely in a mortar or through a vegetable sieve, using the widest
grid. Mix with little sugar.

Add three soupspoons of the oil used to fry the almonds to the pigeon
stuffing, putting the remainder of this oil on one side.

To complete the Bastela you can use a round tin-lined copper utensil ("tbsil
dyal bastela") with a diameter of about 50cms (19 ins). Oil the bottom and
sides of this or a baking sheet. Cover the tray with a first layer of 12
sheets of pastry, shiny side down, overlapping them and sticking them with
beaten egg-white. Make sure that the outer sheets hang over the edge of the
tray. Cover with a second layer to strengthen, then a layer of stuffing,
another layer of pastry (but without going over the edges of the tray) the the
pieces of pigeon. Sprinkle with the crushed almonds. Fold back towards the
centre the pastry that overlaps the edge of the tray, sticking them together
with beaten egg yolk. Place two more layers of pastry, shiny surface up,
overlapping each other, with the edges hanging over the edge of
the tray. Tuck these edges under the bottom of the "Bastela" as if making a
bed. Brush surface and edges with egg yolk and oil remaining from almonds. You
now have a flat pie about 4 cms (2ins) thick. Cook in moderate oven for about
20 minutes until golden brown.

Turn out on to another baking sheet, and, about 15 to 20 minutes before
serving, brush with oil again, put back in the oven to brown the other side.

To serve, turn the "Bastela" out on to a large plate, sprinkle the top
liberally with icing sugar and finish off with fine criss-cross lines of
powdered cinnamon.

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