I share with you my mini chicken pastillas, with a recipe from traditional Moroccan cuisine, it’s easy to prepare and above all it’s a real delight. Refined, sumptuous, exquisite, the chicken pastilla remains a timeless classic and in the individual version it is even more irresistible! We love its crispy side, its generous stuffing, made up of three layers, a layer of shredded chicken meat, a layer of onion and egg confit and a layer of roasted and finely crushed almonds, subtly flavored with cinnamon and Orange tree Flower water ! Everything in the mouth is an explosion of flavors! This sweet/salty Moroccan specialty will awaken all your senses and will undoubtedly make you travel. The only thing that bothers me a bit is the use of pastry sheets, but that helps when you don’t have time to prepare the “ouar9a” (the special pastilla sheets) yourself. In Morocco, the leaves for the pastilla are very flexible and of incomparable finesse! They are made by hand, it’s quite a technique. But hey, that said, the pastry sheets are perfect when you have no other choice and serve well…the mini chicken pastillas are crispy, the stuffing tasty, everything is a real delight.
1)Start by preparing the meat :
For 6 small individual pastillas…
– 2 packets of pastry sheets (I used 12 pastry sheets)
- 5 chicken thighs (the whole is about 1 kg 500) (Keep the skin, it gives flavor to the sauce)
- 4 large onions, chopped (about 900 g)
- 3 tbsp sunflower oil
- 50g butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 good tsp of turmeric
- 1 good tsp powdered ginger
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tsp smen (rancid butter)
- a cinnamon stick
- a nice pinch of saffron threads melted in half a glass of very hot water
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
In a large pot or Dutch oven, pour the oil. Add the butter in pieces. Place the chicken thighs and add the spices (salt, pepper, ginger, turmeric), the chopped parsley and the cinnamon stick and brown over low heat, the time needed for the meat to soak up many spices and let the onion sweat and go down. Cover every time. The onions will release their water. In principle, it is not necessary to add water. The meat will cook in the juice made mainly by the onions. However, if there is not enough water to allow the meat to cook, you can add a little hot water preferably.
Add the teaspoon of smen, a nice pinch of pure saffron threads melted in half a glass of very hot water as well as a teaspoon of cinnamon. Turn the chicken thighs over so that the rounded, meatier side is immersed in the sauce, to ensure that the meat is well cooked.
Cover and cook the poultry over medium to low heat, occasionally stirring the onion around the meat and passing a wooden spoon under the meat to prevent it from sticking.
After this time, take out the cooked chicken pieces, place them in a dish. Remove the skin from each chicken thigh. Bone each thigh, removing the bones. Also remove veins and all impurities. Keep only the flesh of the chicken that we will fray by cutting it into small pieces. You can use a fork to debone each leg, but I prefer to do it with your fingers so you don’t lose any meat. Reserve this shredded chicken meat.
Let the sauce reduce well until you get an onion confit. The fat should come off the onion and the water should evaporate. Stir often to prevent sticking.
2)Prepare the candied onion and egg stuffing :
Then add to the sauce:
- 1 tbsp flower honey to bring out the naturally sweet taste of the onion
- a small bowl of chopped parsley (70 g)
- then little by little 8 whole eggs. Mix well each time you add an egg to incorporate it into the sauce.
Continue cooking, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the eggs are cooked and there is no more juice! You get a thick and fluffy omelet. Let cool.
3)Prepare the third layer made up of roasted almonds :
- 250g almonds
- 80g icing sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp orange blossom water
In a saucepan, place the almonds. Cover with cold water and boil them for a few minutes, just long enough for the skin to come off the almond easily.
Drain and then peel the almonds. Rinse them and drain them again. Then put them to dry on a towel.
Pour a bottom of sunflower oil, enough to fry this quantity of almonds. The oil should be cold when you add the almonds. So they will be crispy in the heart. Stir often with a wooden spoon and as soon as the almonds are nicely golden but not dark, remove them very quickly with a slotted spoon and dry them on absorbent paper.
Blend the almonds until finely chopped. Place them in a bowl. Add the icing sugar, cinnamon and orange blossom water. Mix well and set aside.
Trick : To make it easier for you, try making 6 small delimited and identical heaps with the three elements that make up the stuffing, by eye. So you will have small pastillas of the same format. I thought of doing that once launched suddenly my first little pastilla is more generous than the following but it is not embarrassing.
- You will need melted butter (I used pastry margarine). Clarify the butter. Start by melting 200 g and you will see if it is enough or not…
- 2 to 3 egg yolks for sticking the leaves
- a little cinnamon and icing sugar to sprinkle between each layer
In a small terracotta bowl 13.5 cm in diameter. deep or circle or other container of the same dimensions, place a pastry sheet. Butter it with a brush.
Stuff a first layer of shredded chicken meat in the bottom. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and icing sugar.
Add a layer of onion confit and eggs. Press gently and sprinkle a little cinnamon and icing sugar.
Add a third layer with finely crushed roasted almonds. Pack and sprinkle a little cinnamon and icing sugar.
Fold the sheet so as to have a round pastilla. Glue the leaves with a little egg yolk. Brush the top with butter.
Take another pastry sheet. Place it well in the middle on the small bowl and turn the pastilla over in the flat of your hand. Remove the terrine and place it on the table; Put the pastilla back on the second pastry sheet. Butter the inside edges of this second sheet. Fold so as to have a very round pastilla, while welding the sheets with egg yolk. Brush the top with butter.
Place the small pastilla formed on an oven tray lined with oiled parchment paper to obtain pretty crispy pastillas.
Continue like this until you have finished all the ingredients that make up the stuffing.
Butter all the pastillas on top and around them and bake at 180°C until the pastillas are nicely golden and crispy. I used the convection function of my oven and I turned them over once so that they were golden brown all over.
After cooking, take them out and place them on a grid if possible.
Go to decoration :
You will need:
- liquid flower honey
- a few slivered almonds or roasted and crushed almonds.
- icing sugar
- cinnamon powder
- a stencil (which you can make)
Spread honey with a brush on all the small pastillas, on the top and the edges. The honey gives a good taste to the pastillas and helps to fix the almonds.
Decorate according to your fancy, giving free rein to your imagination.
Some decoration ideas :