2000s Recipes + Menus

Squab B’stilla

  • Active time:1 1/2 hr
  • Start to Finish:3 hr
November 2004
At Mo Mo, chef Greg Malouf serves his b’stilla in individual portions, but we’ve opted to make a large pie designed to be served in wedges.
  • 8 saffron threads
  • 3 squabs (about 3 lb total)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 teaspoons finely chopped seeded fresh jalapeño chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dry Sherry
  • 1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds (1 1/4 oz)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed if frozen (then unrolled)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons confectioners sugar

Make filling:

  • Heat a dry 12-inch heavy skillet over low heat and toast saffron 1 minute, then transfer to a small dish and crumble. Reserve skillet.
  • Cut off wings from squabs with a sharp small knife and discard, then cut off legs with thighs. Using kitchen shears, cut out backbone and ribs and discard. Cut breasts in half lengthwise with shears. Pat legs and breast halves dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Heat olive oil in skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown squab in 2 batches, skin side down first, turning over once, about 6 minutes total per batch, transferring as browned to a platter.
  • After second batch is browned, return all squab pieces to skillet along with onion, garlic, jalapeño, cumin, ginger, saffron, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, then sauté, stirring, 1 minute.
  • Add Sherry and boil 30 seconds, scraping up any brown bits. Add broth and water and simmer, covered, turning squab over once or twice, until tender, about 40 minutes.
  • Transfer squab with tongs to a platter and reserve cooking liquid in skillet. When squab is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and finely shred meat, then toss with 3 tablespoons cooking liquid and cover loosely with foil.
  • Boil remaining cooking liquid in skillet (without straining) over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until sauce is very thick and reduced to about 1/2 cup, 12 to 15 minutes, then transfer to a 1 1/2- to 2-quart heavy saucepan. (Do not skim fat from sauce.)
  • Whisk together eggs and 1/4 cup sauce in a bowl until combined, then whisk into remaining sauce in saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula, until eggs just set into very soft curds, 5 to 7 minutes. (Mixture will have the consistency of very soft oatmeal.) Immediately transfer egg mixture to a bowl and stir in parsley and cilantro. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Assemble and bake b’stilla:

  • Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a 10-inch skillet over moderate heat until just hot, then fry almonds, stirring frequently, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain almonds and cool on a paper-towel-lined plate.
  • Brush a 9-inch round cake pan with some of butter. Cover stack of phyllo with plastic wrap and a dampened kitchen towel. Keeping remaining phyllo covered, place 1 sheet on a work surface and brush with butter. Fold in half crosswise and butter again. Repeat with another sheet, buttering, folding, and buttering, then place over first sheet crosswise. Repeat with 2 more sheets, buttering, folding, and buttering, then placing each sheet on top of the previous one in a star pattern to form a round. (Sheets should not align.) Lift stacked phyllo and gently fit into bottom of cake pan and halfway up side.
  • Sprinkle almonds over phyllo, then stir squab into egg mixture and spread evenly in phyllo shell.
  • Put 1 of remaining sheets of phyllo on a work surface and brush with butter. Fold in half crosswise and butter again. Fold in half (to quarter) and brush with butter. Repeat with remaining sheet phyllo and lay over first sheet crosswise. Place over center of filling. Bring edges of phyllo from side of pan up over filling and quartered top sheets.
  • Bake b’stilla until golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then invert onto a platter and let stand 5 minutes.
  • Sift confectioners sugar over top of b’stilla, then remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut into wedges.
Cooks’ note: B’stilla can be baked 2 hours ahead and left in pan, uncovered. Reheat in a preheated 350°F oven about 10 minutes.
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