Skillet Chicken Pie with Sweet Potatoes & Ras el Hanout

Serves 4. 

Bisteeya is a traditional Moroccan pie that served as the inspiration for this cozy but elegant chicken pot pie. The deeply aromatic notes of Ras el Hanout complement the sweet potatoes and savory chicken perfectly.

If you’re short on time, use store-bought puff pastry for the crust and rotisserie chicken (3 cups) in the filling.

For the crust:
1 cup flour
⅓ cup unsalted butter, very cold, cubed
½ teaspoon salt
3–5 tablespoons cold water
Milk or beaten egg, for brushing 

For the filling: 
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon neutral oil such as canola or sunflower
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large shallots or 1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Ras el Hanout
2 tablespoons flour 
2 heaping tablespoons barberries,* rinsed
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Salt and black pepper, to taste 

Make the crust (skip this step if using puff pastry) Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter cubes and use your fingers, a pastry cutter, or food process to work it into the flour until the mixture has a coarse sandy texture. Drizzle 3 tablespoons cold water over the mixture and combine with a fork until the mixture comes together. Add more water, one tablespoon at a time and only if necessary, to bring dough together. Using your hands, gently form the dough into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to roll it out, at least 30 minutes.

Roast the sweet potatoes  Preheat the oven to 350° F. Put the potatoes on a sheet pan, drizzle the oil over them, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss the sweet potatoes, making sure that they are evenly coated with oil. Roast the sweet potatoes until softened and starting to brown, 15–20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven but leave the oven on.

Cook the chicken (skip this step if using pre-cooked chicken)  Put the chicken breasts or thighs into a medium saucepan and add the stock. (If the stock does not cover the chicken entirely add water to cover the chicken by ½ inch.) Bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low, maintaining a very gentle simmer (do not let the stock boil). Cover the saucepan. Cook until the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165° F on a meat thermometer, 12–20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the stock and set aside to cool slightly.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, chop it into roughly ¾-inch pieces. Strain and measure the chicken stock; you should have 3 cups; save any extra stock for later use. 

Make the filling  Set a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter, shallots, and garlic. Sauté until the shallots soften and begin to turn golden. Add the Ras el Hanout and sauté for 1 minute. Sprinkle the flour over the shallots and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring. Reduce the heat to low. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock, a splash at a time, making sure that the stock is fully incorporated before adding the next splash. Raise the heat to medium-high, continue stirring, and simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the chicken, sweet potatoes, barberries, and cilantro. Taste and add salt if needed.

Cover the pie  On a floured work surface, roll the dough into an approximately 10-inch round. Gently lay the crust over the filling in the skillet. Cut 3–4 small vents in the center of the dough. Brush the crust with milk or egg; bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, 25-35 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and let it rest for 5–10 minutes before serving.

*If you don’t have barberries, substitute dried sour cherries or cranberries (chopped) or dried currants. 


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