Mrs Bailey’s Chicken B’stilla

A slice of Morocco, right there on your plate…

A pinch of saffron threads

1 onion, sliced

Half a dozen garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ras el hanout*

750g leftover roast chicken, shredded

125g strong chicken stock

3 eggs, beaten

50g almond flour

1 pack filo pastry, defrosted

Quite a lot of butter, melted

Put the saffron threads in a little hot water, to soak.

Toast the almond flour in a dry pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes, until golden. Transfer to a bowl as soon as you like the colour; it burns quickly if left in the pan.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a skillet and add the onion; fry for a few minutes, until starting to colour. Add the garlic, and fry for a minute; add the ground spices, and cook for a couple of minutes. Take off the heat; stir in the chicken, stock, almond flour and eggs. Salt to taste, and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Butter a springform pan, and set it on a rimmed baking tray next to your workstation.

Unroll the filo sheets. Butter the top sheet generously, then pick up that and the sheet beneath and lay them both in the springform like a lining, with excess hanging over the edge. Repeat with the next two sheets, and the next two, and two more.

Fill with the chicken mixture, and fold over the excess filo to cover.

Butter one more sheet, and lay that and its underfellow neatly atop the b’stilla, butter side down, tucking or crimping the excess as you wish.

Butter the top of the b’stilla, and sprinkle with a little more almond flour, a little sugar, and a little cinnamon.

Bake for half an hour or so, until crisp and darkly golden brown.

Let cool for fifteen minutes in the pan, before releasing.

Plate and serve.

*Ras el Hanout:

This is a Moroccan spice mix, which tastes wonderful in all sorts of dishes but is essential in this.

You can buy it, of course, in stores or online. If you’d rather make your own, this is how:

2 teaspoons fennel seed

8 allspice berries

8 green cardamom pods

8 cloves

Half a teaspoon black peppercorns

1 stick cinnamon, preferably Ceylon

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

1/2 teaspoon ground mace

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon ground ginger

Mrs Bailey, of course, has all this ground to a powder in a pestle and mortar, by a kitchenmaid. If you lack one of those, or any other skivvy (teenage boys are good, I hear, if they can be kept to their work), then by all means use a spice grinder of any kind. Me, I do this in the Vitamix, it’s awesome.

You can find more of Mrs Bailey’s recipes here:

…and the many adventures of the Crater School girls here:

I write. That’s what I do. Forty-two years a pro (and counting), and never a day job. Betweentimes I cook, and garden, and am very married.