B’stilla is a Moroccan meat pie layered with exotic spices, both savory and slightly sweet, wrapped in phyllo and baked to golden, buttery perfection. You can make it as one showstopper of a B’stilla (as we do here), or make triangles, lovely as a passed appetizer. Or, pair it with a salad and dinner’s done!
If you’ve never considered a salad comprised only of parsley leaves, please do so. It’s super-healthy and incredibly delicious. Who knew parsley could be such a treat? In this recipe, the palate-cleansing attributes of the salad are the perfect accompaniment for the rich and flavorful b’stilla.
Can you imagine how great the kitchen will smell when you begin the filling? Rich with spices, the prognosis for a fantastic meal is very promising.
Once the filling has cooled, filling the phyllo and preparing the b’stilla is easy as folding a flag.
Bake until perfectly crisp and golden: you may need to rotate the pan (as I do above) during the cooking process.
For the B'stilla:
a stick of butter, divided
2 large onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, slivered
3 cinnamon sticks (or use ground cinnamon. It's just as effective but less sexy)
1 teaspoon freshly toasted and ground allspice berries (or use ground)
1 handful raisins or dates
2 pounds ground lamb, beef, or a 50-50 mix
1 handful pine nuts, toasted
1 handful chopped parsley
12 sheets of phyllo dough
powdered sugar, for garnish
you'll also need a pastry brush
For the Parsley Salad:
2 bunches parsley, leaves removed from the stems
juice of 1 lemon
a swirl of olive oil
Maldon salt, to taste
Prepare the filling:
Heat a tablespoon of butter in a saute pan, add the onions & garlic, and cook gently until the onions are translucent. Add the cinnamon sticks and allspice, allowing the flavors to impart. Add the dried fruit. and finally, stir in the meat. Season with a few turns of the pepper mill and plenty of salt (at least 1 teaspoon, since the only salt in this dishcomes from the filling.)
When the meat is cooked to barely rare, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the pine nuts and parsley. Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Allow the filling to cool.
Assemble the b'stilla:
Melt the remainder of the butter and keep handy. Lay out a sheet of phyllo on a flat surface, brush with butter and fold into thirds. Brush again with butter and, working from one end of the dough, add a nice plop of filling. Fold the end over the filling so that you have a triangle, and then continue working up along the dough (flag-folding), so that you're left with a gorgeous, many-leaved triangle. Place this onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and repeat. Once all the phyllo sheets are used up, brush all the tops with butter.
Then, either freeze or pop into a pre-heated oven (375°F) to bake. Bake until a beautiful golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and serve dusted with powdered sugar.
Make the parsley salad
In a large salad bowl, add the parsley, lemon and olive oil. Using your clean hands, mix to combine — if you're using curly parsley, you can really massage in the olive oil and tenderize the leaves.) Finish with a flick on Maldon salt, taste and adjust.