I apologize readers. I have been remiss in my blogging duties, and I have no excuse or pretense or explanation. I’ve just been lazy. And gluttonous (I can’t stop eating!). And greedy (I can’t resist online shopping). And when I’m at work, wrathful (toward my customers). And envious (of others who seem to have a grip on their lives). My poor soul is pretty much doomed, it seems, to a lifetime in limbo (if not worse). God, what’s wrong with me?!?!?!????
But of course, my psyche kicks in, and my endorphins begin to smooth away those harsh, negative feelings, and instead replace them with self-assurance and rational (psych majors, you know what I’m talking about)— I may be damned, but at least I ate well on Earth! And boy, do I.
I’ve been having this strong craving for La Med’s Chicken Cilicia, but it’s expensive and I’ve been too lazy to walk down College Avenue. So I tried my hand at making the dish – the only problem is, there is NO recipe for ‘Chicken Cilicia’ on Google. How utterly frustrating that La Med had to create some ridiculously unique dish that didn’t even exist on Google – it was infuriating! So, I resorted to Googling up the ingredients together – currants, almonds, chicken, cinnamon, sugar, etc… and lo and behold. The dish does exist outside of La Med’s esoteric menu.
Moroccan Bisteeya is traditionally a savory-sweet meat pie with a flaky phyllo shell. It is unique in that the filling is meaty and full of wonderful spices (saffron, turmeric, cumin, etc), but the outside is dusted with a sweet and fragrant cinnamon-sugar coating. And once baked, the cinnamon-sugar just melts and becomes like a sticky glaze – sounds strange, but you MUST try it. It’s sooo good, it’s sinful.
As always, I only loosely follow recipes, any additional kitchen notes will be in [brackets].
*Note: I recently re-made this and stuffed puff pastry dough – INFINITELY BETTER! Thaw, then roll out puff pastry sheets. Drop chicken filling by the spoonful and seal the puff pastry. Brush with egg wash and bake. Delicious!
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 large [red] onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp saffron threads
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbs fresh ginger, grated [ground]
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin seeds [ground]
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 can chicken broth [not in original recipe]
2 pounds boneless chicken thighs, [minced by hand]
3/4 cup golden raisins, chopped [omitted]
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted and chopped
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3/4 lb phyllo dough, thawed & kept under damp towel
1/2 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup powdered sugar [used granulated, so it didn’t melt as well, but still good]
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Melt butter in large sauté pan. [Tip: I also added a splash of olive oil so my butter wouldn’t burn.] Add chopped onion. Cook on medium heat until begin to brown and sweat, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir in saffron, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper and cook 1 more minute. It should resemble a thick paste. Stir in chicken broth, add minced chicken, cover pot, and cook over low heat until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Unlid your pot, and allow to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, but not dry.
Once cooked, slowly stream the beaten eggs into the pot, constantly stirring until set. The meat will resemble, hm [how to put this delicately?]… The mixture will look curdled. You will understand what I mean, when you get to this step. Remove from heat, and allow to cool completely before adding almonds, chopped parsley and cilantro.
All the while, set up your phyllo, making sure it is kept covered and moist at all times.
Removing one sheet from the stack, lightly brush melted butter over the sheet, then fold the sheet horizontally (hotdog) in half.
Spoon a large tablespoon of meat filling onto one end of the long sheet, and use your fingers to mold the filling into a log, parallel to the short side of the folded phyllo. I prefer long and skinny, Kari likes them short and stubby. It all depends on how you want your final product. Just be consistent, as it affects baking time and presentation.
Fold the long sides inward.
Beginning at the filling end, roll the log along the length of the phyllo.
Tuck in the sheet and guiding the roll with your fingers as you go. Be gentle, phyllo can be delicate.
The unbaked product. Keep it covered with a damp towel!
After rolling, your pot should look like this.
Before baking, lightly brush each roll with butter and sprinkle cinnamon-sugar over the top. Bake in oven until golden brown and beautiful. Remove, and this is what you get.
These can be served warm or at room temperature. Dig in folks.
So, in theory, I haven’t been all that lazy. I hauled myself out of bed to make bisteeya. That shows a bit of diligence, I think. Also, I recently committed myself to making Thanksgiving Dinner for 20+ of my friends – there is a monster of a bird sitting in my fridge, some 20+ pounds. That can’t be a sign of laziness- gluttonous, I’ll give you that, but not lazy. My pre-mature Turkey Dinner will feature a Pomegrante Glazed Turkey with Couscous stuffing. The dinner itself will favor strong Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences with my Turkish bell pepper soup (served in a pumpkin!), batata harra (spicy potatoes), homemade meat pastries and spreads. Additionally, I want a cookie stand – filled with shortbread, molasses spice, double chocolate chip, the works. I want to WOW my guests. I’ll be in the kitchen at all hours for the next 2.5 days. Stay tuned!
From my kitchen to yours and happy holidays!