Many people make pastilla with pigeon but it is great to do it with the duck. Brik pastry is the correct one to use and can be bought ready-made from Moroccan shops, some French delis and food halls. You can also use filo pastry instead, but do be careful using filo this way as the pastilla can become greasy if you add too much butter. Pastilla is generally served as a starter at the beginning of special meals. It is a pie which combines sweet and salty flavours; a combination of crisp layers of the pastry, savory meat slow-cooked in broth and spices and shredded, and a crunchy layer of toasted and ground almonds, cinnamon, and sugar. In a round pizza pan, the first dough layer is added, and butter brushed onto it. The cook adds the sauce over the dough, and places two more sheets on top. It is then baked, sprinked with confectioner’s sugar and perhaps more cinnamon, and served.
4 legs confit duck∗, plus a little fat from the confit
1 onion, finely diced
1 cinnamon stick
1 handful parsley, coriander and thyme, tied together, plus 1 handful parsley and coriander, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
3 whole eggs, plus 2 yolks
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 handful roast almonds
200 g brik pastry or filo pastry
20 – 50 g butter, melted
a little vegetable oil (if using brik pastry)
Take a large cast-iron pan and heat the fat in it. Add the onion and fry gently until translucent. Add the cinnamon stick and bundle of herbs, then the duck and give the pan a good shake. Grind in some pepper. Cover with water, bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes until the duck has warmed through. Using a slotted spoon or scoop, take all the bits out of the water, reserving the duck. Bring the liquid to the boil and reduce by half.
Beat the eggs and yolks together, then mix in three-quarters each of the icing sugar and cinnamon powder. Pour this into the liquid, turn the heat off and stir like a mad until it thickens like custard. Grind the almonds, ad them to the custard and leave to cool.
Strip the duck, chuck away the skin and bone, and shred the meat. Mix it with the chopped herbs. When the custard is cool, fold the duck and herbs into it to give a mixture that is moist but not wet.
heat the oven to 200ºC (gas 6). Brush six little non-stick pie dishes or blini pans with the melted butter and lay in the pastry, leaving enough overhanging that it can be folded to seal the filling. If you are using brik, use two or three layers of pastry and brush vegetable oil lightly between each one; for filo, use four layers with the tiniest amount of melted butter between each.
Divide the filling among the pastillas, then fold the pastry over and brush the tops with more butter. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to cool a little before turning out. Sprinkle with the remaining icing sugar and cinnamon and serve.
∗ French dish made with the leg of the duck