Basteeya – Moroccan Sweet and Savory “Pie” is a quintessential Moroccan dish. Basteeya is made with a “Filo” pastry type dough, which in Morocco they call, “Feuilles De Brick or Warka.” This dish is more savory than sweet and is served as an appetizer, not dessert. Traditionally, Basteeya is made with pigeon, which i tried for my first time in Morocco when i visited. For this Basteeya i made “Duck Confit Basteeya.” This is VERY non-traditional, but i like the idea, as i had “Duck Basteeya” at Aziza restaurant in San Fransico and it left a lasting impression. I have no clue on the recipe, as it is not printed anywhere on the “world wide web.” There are excerpts here and there of the base, which is confit duck (confit means to preserve), caramelized onions and “Ras el hanout” (A blend of Moroccan spices), but that was it. I was on my own from there. So this is my interpertaion of “Duck Basteeya.”
I’m a “purist” when it comes to cooking, i like to take the time to make all (if possible) ingredients from scratch. This is my own “thing” and of course, I don’t expect all cooks to do this. I have noted alternatives for “from scratch,” to “store bought,” to accommodate. First, i made the “Duck Confit” (directions on “how to” are in the note section of the recipe), which indeed takes at least eight hours to make in the oven. This requires you to stay home for at least eight hours. When i do this, i plan additional cooking projects around this, so i can utilize my time wisely. I make various stocks, maybe a Bolognese sauce, projects that take a long time, but don’t require an oven (as my duck is in the oven). If you don’t want to take the time to make duck confit, you can buy duck confit from a specialty supermarket. If you want an alternative for duck, use chicken legs (dark meat is preferred- it has more flavor) which is often in Basteeya or a vegetarian version with potatoes and eggs (recipe to follow).
I also made the “Ras el hanout” from scratch (If you see a miss spelling ANYWHERE in this blog post for Ras el hanout, it is NOT my fault, my spell checker keeps changing the spelling to “hangout,” HA) “Ras el hanout” is a mixture of at least twelve to seventeen whole dry spices, toasted on the stove top and put in a grinder. However, most spice shops and supermarkets sell a version of Ras el hanout. I made mine with fifteen spices, in a large batch, so i could use the mixture for additional dishes, in the future.
For this recipe “Feuilles De Brick or Warka,” is used, basically a pastry type dough, similar in texture to filo. I made my own “Warka” from scratch. As you can see this dish was not a two hour project for me, i had to make this dish in stages, over the course of four days. You can buy store bought filo dough in the frozen section, at the supermarket and defrost it according to the directions. This recipe can be made in forty-five minutes, without making any of this from scratch, I promise.
I made individual Basteeya, but you can make one large 9 inch Basteeya, any size you prefer and bake it in the oven. I fried the individual Basteeya in duck fat on the stove top. Alternatively, you can use butter, but not oil, you want the Basteeya to have rich flavor, which oil won’t give it. Since the ingredients are already cooked, you are basically just cooking and frying the outside of the dough to give it color.
Basteeya is served with powdered sugar. I have also sprinkled an almond, cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the powdered sugar. I made a cherry sauce to serve with my “Duck Confit Basteeya.” Cherries are in season right now and duck goes great with oranges, so why not cherries. I plated the Basteeya with the cherry sauce, as an accompaniment. Of course this is optional, but gives a nice balance to the savory part of the Basteeya.
Below is me in Fez, Morocco, during one of my cooking classes. These are the traditional Tagines, three, plus my head, which one doesn’t belong.
Above: is traditional Moroccan bread that is sold in all areas of the Medina (Holy Area). This Moroccan bread is very thick and dense.
Above: Moroccan Spices, so many.
Above: Olive, cheese and herb filo triangles. Learning how to make it, stuff it and shape it.
Above: This was very unusual and unexpected, as i had wine during the cooking class. Outside the Medina (Holy Area), hotels and Hotel Riads ( a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard) can serve wine to tourists. I’m quite sure this was the only wine i had during my visit to Morocco. We made Lamb and Prune Tagine.
- 3 confit duck legs (or cooked chicken legs) vegetarian alternative, see notes
- ¼ cup onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1½ teaspoons ras el hanout
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon currants
- 8 sheets of filo dough (defrosted)
- 1 teaspoon almond, cinnamon and sugar
- ½ stick butter - 2 tablespoons for the onions and two tablespoons to cook the Basteeya
- Almond/cinnamon sugar:
- ¾ cup blanched whole almonds, toasted
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Cherry Sauce:
- ½ cup fresh or frozen pitted cherries
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ cup water
- For the almond/cinnamon sugar:
- Place the almonds, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and grind to a powder.
- For the filling:
- Shred the cooked meat and discard bones and skin. Place in a bowl and set aside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy skillet or sauté pan that has a lid. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent – about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add to the meat.
- Add the remaining filling ingredients to the meat.
- Cherry Sauce:
- In a 2-quart heavy-based saucepan, combine the cherries, sugar and water. Set the pan over low heat and mash the cherries roughly with a potato masher or the back of a large fork. Increase the heat to medium low and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, remove from heat, let cool for 5 to 10 min.
- Put the cherries in a blender and puree. Place puree in a fine sieve set over a bowl. Press on the cherries to extract all the liquid; discard the solids.
- In a large nonstick pan melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
- Cut filo into 9 inches circles and brush with butter. Place two sheets of filo (two per circle) in a 6-inches tart ring or mold. I have made them with or without a mold. If you don't have a mold, that is fine too.
- Place meat (or vegetarian option) mixture on filo and spread out tightly.
- Close the bastillas tighly to make a circle.
- Cook the bastillas in butter in a nonstick sauté pan, until golden brown on both sides.
- Sprinkle with confectioners sugar, almond cinnamon sugar mixture, currants and Cherry Sauce.
- You can serve Basteeya warm or at room temperature.
Vegetarian Option: Omit the meat and substitute 4 scrambled eggs and one medium potato, cubed and boiled until fork tender
How to confit duck: rub the duck legs with a ¼ cup salt and 2 tablespoons Ras el Hanout and put them in the fridge for twenty-four hours. After twenty-four hours, wash the duck legs throughly with water to remove the salt, pat dry the duck legs and cover the duck legs with melted duck fat (completely cover the legs) and cook at 195F for eight hours. Once cooked remove from the oven, cool, cover and place in fridge, until ready to use. The fat preserves the meat for about three months in the fridge. When ready to use some or all of the duck legs, bring the duck fat and legs to room temperature for easy removal of the duck legs. Return the remaining confit duck legs to the fridge for another dish.