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    Pastilla

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    Pastilla

    Serves: 6 - 8

    Ingredients

    • 3 squabs or wood pigeons
    • 4 sprigs each of parsley and coriander, tied into a bunch
    • 1 stick of cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon black pepper
    • Good pinch of salt
    • 1 onion, peeled and grated
    • 200g unsalted butter
    • 200g whole blanched almonds
    • Ground cinnamon
    • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
    • 4 whole eggs
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 500g filo pastry

    Method

    1. Place the pigeons breast-side down in a heavy pan in which they will just fit. Add the bunch of herbs, cinnamon stick, pepper, salt, grated onion and 60g of the butter. Pour over just enough water to cover the pigeons. Bring to the boil, turn down to a slow simmer, cover and leave to cook for 1 hour.
    2. Gently fry the whole almonds in 30g of the butter. Stir constantly until the almonds are golden brown, watching carefully to make sure neither the butter nor the almonds burn. Pat the almonds dry on kitchen paper and leave to cool, then grind them coarsely. Sift together 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon with two-thirds of the icing sugar and mix thoroughly into the almonds.
    3. When the pigeons are cooked, remove them from the pan and leave to cool. Reduce the poaching liquid to 300ml by fast-boiling. Take the broth off the heat. Beat the eggs and yolks until they are frothy. Stir the beaten eggs into the broth. Return the pan to the lowest possible heat and stir constantly for 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens sufficiently to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Check the seasoning.
    4. Remove the skin from the squabs or pigeons and, with your fingers, shred the flesh, discarding all the bones (in Morocco, they prefer to leave the bones in, but this is distinctly hazardous to the unsuspecting diner). Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
    5. Melt the remaining butter over a low heat and skim off the scum. Choose a shallow, non-stick, round pie tin and grease lightly. Lay a sheet of filo across it, letting the edges hang over, and brush lightly with melted butter. Lay another sheet at a 60° angle and again brush the surface with butter. Repeat with another 4 sheets of filo, until the surface of the pie dish is completely covered and you have completed the circle.
    6. Scatter the shredded pigeon over the pastry and top with the egg sauce. Fold two layers of filo in half and place in the preheated oven for 1 minute, to crisp up. Place these over the egg sauce and top with the almond, cinnamon and sugar mixture.
    7. Fold in the overlapping edges of filo, brushing the surface lightly with butter. Now lay two sheets of filo over the surface and gently tuck them in under the base, cutting off any excess. Brush the surface with melted butter and pour any remaining butter around the edges of the tin.
    8. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then carefully invert the pie onto a baking sheet. Bake upside down for a further 20 minutes. Return to top-side up. Bake for a further 10 minutes, until the top is crispy golden. Sprinkle the surface with cinnamon and icing sugar (traditionally this is arranged in a lattice shape) and serve absolutely piping hot.

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