Joffrey’s Pigeon Pie a.k.a. Moroccan Bisteeya

Remember that pie at Joffrey’s wedding where the pigeons fly out of it?! Well, this is isn’t exactly it. I mean, I can’t bake a pie with live pigeons, and expect to cut it and have them fly out magically. BUT, this pie does have chicken in it. And everything else.

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I actually happened upon this recipe by chance. Groggy and half-awake while eating a late breakfast, I was watching Martha Stewart. And everything she was making looked amazing. This is a Moroccan Bisteeya, which is a sweet and savory pie, similar to a pigeon pie. It has chicken and nuts and herbs and sugar, all wrapped up in delicious phyllo dough.

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This recipe looks hard, but it’s mostly time consuming. I made a couple of adjustments out of ease and necessity, but this recipe is essentially the one from Martha Stewart. I am not sure exactly how authentic it is, nor have I had it at a restaurant (yet). I have found a couple of Moroccan restaurants that do serve it, and will most definitely order it for comparison’s sake.

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JOFFREY’S PIGEON PIE a.k.a. MOROCCAN BISTEEYA*

Makes 1 10 inch round pie

  • 1 ¾ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken legs and thighs (I used a cooked rotisserie chicken, and used the bones of that chicken to create the stock later described in the instructions)
  •  2 cloves garlic, minced
  •  ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅜ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ⅜ pound pistachio, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ⅙ cup finely chopped preserved lemons**
  • ½ cup clarified butter
  • ½ (6-ounce) package frozen phyllo dough sheets, thawed in refrigerator
  1. Place chicken in a large bowl along with garlic, salt, pepper, ginger, saffron, turmeric, and cinnamon sticks; set aside.
  2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and sauté onion. Add chicken mixture and enough water to cover chicken. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 ¼ hours.
  3. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan. Add pistachios and cook, stirring until browned. Remove from heat and let cool. Add confectioners’ sugar and ground cinnamon; stir to combine. Set aside.
  4. Remove chicken and all bones from stock. Add lemon juice. Beat eggs and whisk into stock. Cook until thick and dry. Fold in parsley and cilantro; set aside.
  5. Remove and discard bones and skin from chicken, reserving meat. Shred with your fingers into small pieces (not larger than 1 inch, and preferably in shreds rather than chunks). Transfer to a medium bowl; stir in preserved lemons and set aside.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Brush a 10-by-2-inch round cake pan with clarified butter. Working with 1 sheet of phyllo at a time, place in cake pan, leaving edges to overhang pan. Brush with clarified butter before adding the next sheet in an overlapping circular pattern. Repeat process using 6 to 8 sheets of phyllo and clarified butter to cover bottom of pan.
  8. Top evenly with half of shredded chicken mixture. Cover chicken with half of almond mixture. Top this with half of egg mixture, then repeat layering process with remaining ingredients. Then take overhanging phyllo and fold toward center of pan.
  9. With another 6 to 8 sheets of phyllo and clarified butter, repeat overlapping circular pattern. Using scissors, trim a little excess phyllo. Tuck overhanging edges under the pie. Brush phyllo with clarified butter. Chill at least 30 minutes.
  10. Using a sharp knife, score phyllo in a diamond pattern. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. If pie is not golden brown, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven and dust with confectioners’ sugar and, using your fingers, sprinkle with ground cinnamon in a decorative pattern. Slice and serve.

*Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

**Don’t have preserved lemons?

You can thinly slice a fresh lemon, sauté it over low heat with a little olive oil, a few pinches of salt and sugar until the rinds are very soft. Cool slightly and then chop.

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I divided the recipe in half because this gigantic pie was more than enough for three people to eat. It was still too much. I also ran out of almonds and since we were making baklava anyway, I substituted pistachios. This provided a subtler flavor with the sugar and the cinnamon than almonds would have. Additionally, I largely decreased cinnamon since no one in my house is a big fan of that strong flavor. This is a decadent and heavy dish that I would make on special occasions. It’s like a heartier chicken pot pie filled with some of my favorite flavors. I personally feel like it needs a sauce, but this may have been because of the already cooked chicken, it may have caused the pie to not be as moist as it should be inside. I’d love to try variations of this to experiment with flavor profiles.

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