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Poulet Rouge: Bisteeya

Poulet Rouge: Bisteeya

I don't remember the first time I had bisteeya, but I remember being fascinated by its structure. The richness of the soft cooked eggs, the sweet salty almonds, the hopelessly buttery filo. It was like all of the fancy food I'd ever seen in the 80s - a little thing wrapped in pastry sitting in a pool of pretty, dusted with snow white sugar. 

I remember something else about bisteeya - its richness, which I think came from the eggs and butter. Making it was a labor, and serving it to guests required a good vinaigrette on the accompanying salad, something with zing to cut that richness. And that's what I was thinking about when I decided to make a modified bisteeya with these wonderful poulet rouge from Marx Foods. 

The challenge I'd found with bisteeya - its richness - often had to do with the size of the slice, and in order to keep the layers looking beautiful when served, you couldn't just serve a person a sliver of the stuff. So anytime it wound up on my plate, it was a slice the size of a piece of quiche, when really it only needed to be a fourth that size. That was my angle of attack. Rather than making one large bisteeya, I used mini popover pans to make individual bisteeyas. The size of the pan alone limited how much egg, butter, and chicken each package would have, and the petite morsel would become so much easier to serve - it could even be eaten by hand. 

And that's exactly how we ate the little bites one night, by hand, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar, like crunchy donuts filled with egg and chicken. 

Poulet Rouge Bisteeya
1 poulet rouge, cut up
cinnamon stick
5 black peppercorns
2 fresh bay leaves
3 T olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 T butter
1/2 c slivered or sliced almonds
1 T granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs, soft scrambled with a little butter
1 package filo dough, defrosted
1/2 stick butter, melted
cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Place the poulet rouge, cinnamon, black peppercorns and bay leaves in a small stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, turn it down to a simmer, skim off the scum and cook until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pot and allow to cool. When it is completely cool, pick the meat from the bones.
  2. Meanwhile, put 2 T of the olive oil into a skillet. Add the onions to the skillet and turn down the heat. Cook slowly until the onion is completely browned. This will take about 25 minutes, and you'll be left with only a few tablespoons of onions. Remove the onions from the pan and set them aside to cool.
  3. Using the same onion skillet, heat the remaining olive oil and butter until the butter foams. Add the slivered almonds and toss gently for a minute. Sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon and salt onto the almonds and continue cooking until brown and coated with the seasonings. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
  4. If you haven't already soft scrambled the eggs, now's the time to do it. You can even use the same skillet.
  5. Cut the filo dough so that individual pieces cover the bottom and sides of the muffin or popover pans. Brush the pieces with melted butter and place the dough, butter side up, into the pans.  
  6. Add a little bit of onions, followed by egg, chicken, and almonds. This should fill the cup nicely.  
  7. Top the cup with a little piece of buttered filo and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top.
  8. Bake in a 375F oven until the filo is nicely browned, about 10 - 12 minutes.  
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