Chicken B’Stilla | Expectations

Dorie Greenspan Chicken B'Stilla

I used to make all sorts of plans for the day or, for that matter, for the season. There were always thoughts of canning this or pickling that. I would want to see that movie or meet those new friends for drinks. There were dinner parties to attend and menus to plan.

Not so anymore.

I keep my expectations low. I never know how the day, the week, or the season might look. So when I saw the google streetview truck driving away from my home as I pulled into my driveway, I could only sigh. There was an exersaucer on the yellow and brittle front lawn, an old truck canopy in the driveway, the remnants of our home remodel strewn about along with an enormous pile of shoes by the front door.

I guess they don’t call ahead.

One can only hope the next homeowners aren’t so tech savvy and miss out on the delightful and likely semi permanent image of my messy house.

However, I can’t say I’m really upset over this. Like I said, I keep my expectation low and, therefore, the real magic happens when I unexpectedly accomplish something. This might take the form of a clean house or a clean child. It might also mean I pick up my phone and call the person I’ve been meaning to call forever. Or, in a very special case, I might actually cook a noteworthy meal.

That’s what happened this week. It was a pleasant and wonderful surprise. My little one slept as I flounced about the kitchen chopping this and preparing that. It was bliss. It worked out beautifully.  Chicken B’stilla is a miraculous dish with sweet and savory notes. I think it’s perfect for any time of year, really. The chicken was moist and a touch sweet. The fresh spices were aromatic and the perfect balance. The filo dough gave it a touch of heartiness like a pot pie of more sophisticated measure. In short, we loved the chicken b’stilla and feasted upon it for several meals. No accompaniments are necessary either. Now that is truly a feat of greatness for a busy mama.

I didn’t get a great picture of the chicken b’stilla while it rested on the pretty plate with steam swirling about. I had it in mind to do that, but I was starved and had my fork in hand the moment it came out of the oven. Are you disappointed? I really hope not. It’s good to keep your expectations low around here.

Chicken B’Stilla

8 boneless chicken thighs, skinned

2 large onions, coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, split and chopped

3/4 tsp ground ginger

3/4 tsp ground coriander

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Big pinch of saffron threads

2 1/2 cups of chicken broth


3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

3 large eggs

2 tbsp honey

Freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

8 sheets filo (each 9×14 inches)

About 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

3 ounces sliced almonds (a scant cup), toasted and chopped

Cinnamon sugar and confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Put the chicken pieces, onions, garlic, and spices into a Dutch oven or other large casserole and give everything a good stir. Cover and let the chicken marinate for one hour at room temperature.

Add the chicken broth and 1 tsp salt to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so that the liquid simmers, cover the pot, and cook for 1 hour, at which point the chicken should be tender.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl. Strain the broth, saving both the liquid and the onions. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut the meat into small cubes or shred it.

Clean the Dutch oven and pour the broth back into it, or pour the broth into a medium saucepan. Whisk in the lemon juice, bring to a boil, and cook until you have 1 cup liquid. Reduce the heat to low.

Beat the eggs with honey, and, whisking all the while, pour into the broth. Heat, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens enough that your whisk leaves tracks in it, about 5 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Sir the chicken and reserved onions into the sauce, along with the thyme and parsley.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Place your filo sheets between sheets of wax paper and cover with a kitchen towel. Brush a 9-inch round cake pan, one that’s 2 inches tall, with melted butter. Brush 1 sheet of filo with melted butter and center it in the pan, so that the excess hangs over the edges. Brush another sheet and press it into the pan so that it’s perpendicular to the first sheet and forms a plus sign. Place a third and then a fourth buttered sheet into the pan so that they form an X; the overhang from all the sheets should cover the edges of the pan.

Sprinkle half the almonds over the filo. Spoon in the saucy chicken, spreading it evenly across the pan, and top with the rest of the almonds. Fold the overhanging filo over the chicken.

Butter the remaining sheets of filo, stacking them one on top of the other on the work surface. Using a pot lid or the bottom of a tart pan as a guide, cut out a 10- to 11- circle. Center the circle over the cake pan and gently tuck the edge of the dough into the pan, working your way around it as though you were making a bed. Brush the top of the b’stilla with a little butter and sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar. Place the pan on the baking sheet.

Bake the b’stilla for 20 minute, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes more. If the top seems to be getting too brown at any point, cover it loosely with foil. Transfer the b’stilla to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 5 minutes before dusting it again, this time with confectioner’s sugar.

Lay a piece of parchment over a cutting board and have a serving platter at hand. Turn the b’stilla out onto the parchment-lined board and then invert it onto the serving platter, so that it’s right side up. Serve the b’stila now, cutting it into wedges, or serve it warm or at room temperature.

Adapted from Around My French Table

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  • August 30, 2011 - | Permalink

    I’ve always wanted to try this recipe. The phyllo dough and all the lovely spices together just sounds wonderful.

  • August 30, 2011 - | Permalink

    I was recently gifted some saffron from a friend and I’ve always wanted to give this dish a go. I think I’m ready and will bookmark this recipe for future dinner plans.

  • August 30, 2011 - | Permalink

    Oh I’ve never had this- thanks for introducing me to it! It looks great!

  • August 30, 2011 - | Permalink

    Dan and I cooked this for supper together on our first Valentine’s Day as a dating couple. It was very hands-on, very romantic and very well worth the effort. I suppose it was a meal of special magnificence as yours was, though for obviously different reasons. Still, your triumph made me smile, and reminded me to make bastilla again once we’re reunited with our cookware from storage.



  • August 30, 2011 - | Permalink

    I’ve also lowered my expectations. To many times, I end up cooking/baking half of what I planned to make…

    That bstilla must taste wonderful! That is a dish I have to try someday…



  • August 31, 2011 - | Permalink

    I understand what you mean about expectations. Friends who’ve recently had babies have told me that life changes dramatically and it’s best to just figure things out as you go :) Speaking of b’stilla, I made this a year or two ago and keep meaning to revisit. It is unspeakably delicious. Thanks for the lovely inspiration :)

  • August 31, 2011 - | Permalink

    This sounds excellent! It reminds me of a time when I was in Spain and our tour guide bought this weird looking turnover. Turned out that it had chicken and some sweet and savory flavors inside. He let me taste it and I have always wanted to replicate it. This may be the one.

  • August 31, 2011 - | Permalink

    Mmmm… This was such a common street food find while I was living in Morocco. Is it French in origin? Must try when chicken makes it way back to my plate. I can already taste it :).

  • September 1, 2011 - | Permalink

    Hey, at least you have a baby to blame. I don’t and your days and weeks sound very much like mine :-) That chicken b’stilla looks wonderful! I hope you enjoyed every bite. Here’s hoping the Little Red Fox has a good wekk!

  • September 2, 2011 - | Permalink

    YuM! I always have b’stilla for my birthday dinner. So impressed you managed to make it with a baby in tow

  • September 3, 2011 - | Permalink

    Hi Robin! Your chicken b’stilla sounds beautiful – I remember trying to cram every inch of personal interest (much to the detriment of a clean house and well groomed self) into J’s nap times as possible – now it seems I just try to ignore the mayhem about and work on anything I can in spite of it all, though truthfully that results in little more being done than caring for the crazy little people underfoot. I’m not blogging right now because I know I cannot spend the time I used to photographing and editing – maybe I should lower my expectations and not worry about everything being so put together. So many older women say they miss the years when their children were young – I believe I will miss the cuddles, sweet sleep, and funny antics, but I know I will be thankful to once again have some personal time and space. xoxo, laura

    • redmenace
      September 18, 2011 - | Permalink

      It is so nice to hear from you! I don’t blame you for not blogging. It is HARD to keep up with it all. I often work at night and during naps. And, mostly, naps are for cleaning up around this messy house. Those folks who tell you to sleep when your kid sleeps are nuts. They must all have maids, I tell you!

      Enjoy the cuddles. They are the best. I hope to hear from you again soon. At least update the blog with sweet baby pics?! xoxoxoxo

  • September 4, 2011 - | Permalink

    It must have been delicious T_T

  • September 7, 2011 - | Permalink

    How is it that I’ve never heard of this? It sounds wonderful! I have a feeling that most of us would feel a little disappointed to just miss the Google Streetview truck :)

  • September 10, 2011 - | Permalink

    Dont worry about the things that have not gotten done. It gets done somehow. I lowered my expectations about how my house should look like or how clean it should be when people come over, saves me a lot of headache now:)

    Would not miss any recipe with phyllo dough! Looks filling!

  • September 22, 2011 - | Permalink

    Never expect anything and you will never disappointed – my motto!
    Kove this chicky dish
    T x

  • March 13, 2013 - | Permalink

    This was absolutely wonderful! I love the combination of spiced chicken, phyllo, and almonds- savory, with a hint of sweetness.

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