Cooking for two has it’s challenges. There’s plenty of recipes I see that I would love to try, but they’re not up to my healthy-weeknight-meal standards, they’re a bit of a hassle to scale down, or both. I could save them for my special occasions and invite others to enjoy them with us, but I’d be entertaining multiple times per week if I really got around to making all these recipes. We had some dinner guests this weekend, and though we already had an entree picked out, this recipe for Moroccan-style Chicken Pie would not get out of my head. This dish is a version of b’stilla, a phyllo pie filled with spiced meat and laced with the sweetness of raisins, almonds, and cinnamon. Incidentally, I was still stumped on what to prepare as appetizer. It dawned on me – I already had all of the ingredients except for the phyllo dough, so why not adapt this into miniature hand-held pies, or phyllo triangles? Of course I am not the first to come up with this… a little googling will show both full size and individual b’stilla are fairly common. I was so excited I’d figured out a way to try this recipe, but I thought it was missing one thing – a sauce to dip the triangles in. I searched around to see if there was a traditional or authentic sauce served with these, but found nothing. However, I thought they’d be great with a cilantro yogurt sauce, spiced with cumin and lemon juice, for a fresh, tangy compliment to the sweetness and spice. This little addition might cause a little deviation from Moroccan authenticity, I’m not quite sure but I thought it was a welcome addition.
To prepare these appetizers, I took the original recipe, and cut it in half. I used chicken breast instead of chicken thighs, and this worked just fine – still moist and tender, shredded beautifully, and plenty of flavor. I did not decrease the amount of almond, powdered sugar, and cinnamon filling. Using 24 sheets of phyllo, I stacked 4 at time, with the almond filling in between the layers as described in the original recipe. Instead of using butter, I just used butter cooking spray – not necessarily to decrease fat or calories, but I honestly find it easier to work with, and the finished product still turns out deliciously tender and flaky. From each stack of 4 phyllo sheets, I cut 4 strips, and in the corner of each strip, placed a heaping teaspoon of the chicken filling. I then folded them up into triangles, placed on a foil-lined backing sheet, and gave them another little spray. These bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. I actually had some filling leftover, but no more phyllo thawed. Twenty-four appetizers was sufficient for this gathering, so I enjoyed the rest as my afternoon snack
For the dipping sauce, I combined 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt with a handful of chopped cilantro, and cumin, lemon juice, and salt to taste.
The result? These were a total hit! Our friends commented on how wonderful the flavor combination was, and especially how the sauce complimented it. I personally love the touch of almond and cinnamon between the layers of golden, flaky dough. Though a bit time consuming, I would definitely make these again. The filling was made the night before, so that saves a bit of time. Though I think the full-size pie would make a lovely dinner, the appetizer version is totally scrumptious, and otherwise I’m not sure when I would have gotten around to enjoying this!