Pastilla de Faisán

The pheasant pastilla recipe is based on a wonderful pigeon pastilla we ate in Paris, at Darkoum, one of the city’s best Moroccan tables. Incidentally, I call the dish pastilla, not bstila, bisteeya or any of the other transliterations. This is what Madame and Monsieur Lamrini call it on their menu, and I consider them the experts. In its original version, young pigeon and over a hundred layers of tissuelike ouarka dough are used.

Ingredients

  • 6 free-range eggs
  • 200 mls (7 oz) strong pheasant stock
  • 150 g (5 oz) butter, melted
  • 12 sheets of filo pastry – about 225 g (½ lb
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 125 g (4 oz) flaked almonds, fried gently in butter
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 750 g ( lbs) cooked pheasant, off the bone
  • 150 g (5 oz) chopped dried fruit (apricots, prunes, peaches or pears, or a mixture)
  • 1-2 tablespoons pickled lemon, chopped – optional
  • 2 teaspoons each cardamom, cumin and coriander seeds, crushed
  • icing sugar, toasted almonds, black olives, fresh mint leaves – to garnish

Method

Beat the eggs with the stock, and cook gently in a non-stick frying pan, as if you were making scrambled eggs. When the mixture has thickened slightly, remove the pan from the heat, and let it cool. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Brush a round cake tin with butter and brush the first two sheets of pastry with butter, and line the tin with them, buttered side up so that the edges hang over the rim. Cut the next four sheets to the diameter of the tin, brush them with melted butter, and lay them in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle half the caster sugar, almonds and cinnamon on to the pastry, and spoon on three-quarters of the egg mixture.

Shred or mince the pheasant, and mix it with the dried fruit, pickled lemon, spices and the rest of the sugar, almonds and cinnamon. Spread this mixture in the dish, and spoon over the remaining egg mixture.

Cut four more sheets of dough to fit the tin, brush them with melted butter, and arrange them on top of the filling. Fold over the overlapping pastry as neatly as possible. Then cut two final sheets to fit, brush them with butter, and place them on top.

Bake for 40 minutes, raise the temperature to 200°C/ 400°F/gas mark 6, and cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

Serve hot or warm, thickly dusted with icing sugar. Heat a couple of skewers and use them to make grill marks in the sugar. Olives, almonds and mint leaves can also be used to garnish. This sweet and savoury pie is also very good cold.

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