As a kid, my very favorite restaurant was Mataam Fez. A Morrocan restaurant, you sat on a poofy pillow on the floor, ate with your fingers, and watched belly dancers pour scalding tea from great heights, dance with snakes and roll coins up and down their bellies. I loved every single dish they served, but above all, was the flakey sweet, rich chicken pie. The b'steeya.
I set out to make this labor intensive dish just out of high school and it was delicious, but enough work that I did not often try again. Recently, though, I've dabbled in ways to speed it up, reinvent it, and enjoy all the flavors without all the work. I love the mini cupcake versions I made a while back and thought it was a perfect candidate for a one pot meal. Taking cues from another favorite dish, the pot pie, I decided to make a soupy broth, incorporate the almonds and cinnamon into the crust and swirl the egg into the sauce and see what happened.
* Much of the effort was in wrangling all the spices, but I now make my own ras el hanout and use it instead. It makes for a much quicker, delicious meal. Mine has plenty of cardamom, coriander and cumin. —savorthis
Almond Crust (makes two, freeze one for later)
sticks cold butter
1 1/2 tablespoons
1 1/2 teaspoons
small onion, diced
garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds
chicken thighs, cubed
ras el hanout*
cubed vegetables (I used zucchini, yellow squash and cauliflower)
Toast almonds in a medium pot for a few minutes, let cool, then pulse in a food processor until finely ground. Add flour, sugar, salt and pepper and process to a fine powder. Add butter and pulse a few times. Add egg and pulse until just combined. Divide in two, wrap in plastic and chill. You can freeze one for later use.
Heat oil, add onions, season with salt, and cook until softened. Add garlic, zucchini, yellow squash and cook a few minutes more. Add chicken and ras el hanout and cook until chicken is no longer pink. Add broth, apricot juice, cauliflower, kabocha and simmer about 10 minutes until liquid sits just below other items. Taste for salt. It should be very well seasoned.
Heat oven to 375. Roll out dough to fit inside top of pot. Beat eggs with cream and stir into chicken mixture. Cover with dough and cut some slits for vents. Place the pot on a baking tray and bake for about an hour until crust is well browned. Let rest about 10-15 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley.