Pastilla is a classic Moroccan pie and what a pie it is – packed with aromatically spiced meat, crisp pastry and a touch of sweet. And with my tweaks, it’s a great use of leftovers, too.
This recipe may not be posted at quite the right time for Thanksgiving leftovers, but that’s because I didn’t make it until we were using our own. However with Christmas coming up, I figured there was another chance it could come in handy. And you can save it for another year!
I have lots of go-to recipes for leftover turkey, like Australian pie (leftover turkey pie with raisins and bechamel), Vietnamese chicken salad, Thai red curry and others, but for whatever reason, I felt like something different. I’m not sure quite what led me to pastilla, but I’m so glad the idea came to me because this was truly delicious.
What is pastilla?
Pastilla is a Moroccan pie, traditionally made with rabbit but commonly made with chicken instead. It has a gentle, warm spice from cinnamon, ginger and garlic, and is slightly sweet.
The flavorful filling is wrapped up in deliciously crisp pastry. You can’t really get the original kind here, but filo pastry or warka is the next best. Being a pie, you can cut it as big or as small a slice as you like, so it’s great for lunch or a main meal.
My variation on tradition: using leftovers
In a more traditional recipe (such as this one, which I have drawn on, among others), you cook the meat with the onions in a kind of spiced broth for a while before then shredding the meat, reducing the sauce, adding the eggs and layering up the pie.
However I thought you could also make it with leftovers, and it definitely works. It also speeds up the process as you simply warm the cooked shredded meat with the onions, spices and a little broth. Add the eggs, then start putting together your pie.
This pastilla may be speeded up slightly from the classic, but it’s still full of flavor. The soft, gently spiced filling wrapped in light, crisp pastry and rounded off with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar. Leftovers never tasted so good.
For the meat filling
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion large
- 2 cloves garlic crushed/finely grated
- 1/2 tbsp ginger finely grated
- 1 lb cooked chicken 450g, or turkey
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 cup light stock
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup parsley 10g, approx, chopped
For the almond layer
- 1 cup ground almonds 85g/3oz, almond flour
- 1 tbsp confectioners sugar icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 4 sheets filo pastry or warka
- 3 1/2 tbsp butter 35g, approx, melted
- Warm the oil in a medium-large skillet over a medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring now and then, for a few minutes until the onion becomes translucent and is soft. Then add the ginger and garlic.
- Cook for another minute then add the chicken, cinnamon, turmeric and stock. Simmer, reducing the heat as necessary, until the liquid has almost gone then add the honey and eggs. Mix them through well and cook a minute then remove from the heat. Add the parsley, mix through and set aside.
- Mix together the almond flour, sugar and cinnamon for the almond layer and set aside.
- Lay a sheet of the pastry in the bottom of an approx 8in/20cm pie or tart dish. Brush all over with melted butter. Lay another piece of pastry on top at a 90 degree angle and brush again with butter. Repeat with the other two sheets of pastry and butter putting the pastry at different angles to be roughly even all sides.
- Put the meat filling in the middle of the pastry base and flatten out, spreading out to the sides. Top with the almond mix, spreading it evenly over the top. Fold over the pastry to cover the top and brush with a little more butter to hold the pastry in place. Bake for around 30 minutes until the top is golden.
- Sprinkle the top with a little confectioners sugar and cinnamon then serve. Best served warm but also works cold.