All right–if after this one Chris doesn’t dash and buy saffron, I give up. In spite of the creative title, this recipe doesn’t actually call for a 500 year old bird. Rather, the recipe is from Maestro Martino da Como’s Libro de Arte Coquinaria, written in the mid-1400s. I won’t tell you how absolutely delicious this dish is–make it (it doesn’t take more than 20 minutes) and see for yourself.
Ingredients for 2 people:
- Two chicken breasts, whole or cut into bite-size chunks
- A scoop of lard; I use D’Artagnan brand duck fat
- Two egg-yolks
- A ladle-full of good chicken broth
- A half cup of verjuice (white is better for the color–red is OK); I buy mine at iGourmet.com
- A generous pinch of saffron
- 2 tbsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 3/4 tbsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- Salt to taste
- A pinch of good minced parsley
Melt the fat in a casserole and sautee the chicken, stirring very often with a wooden spoon, until it is *almost* done.
In the meantime, boil the broth and stir the saffron in it. Remove from fire, let cool for a few minutes and add the verjuice, the egg yolk and the spices, whisking it until it becomes a homogeneous glaze. The exact color will depend on the amount of spices you add–bear in mind that what I gave you above is one of the many combinations and relative quantities–but given the preponderance of saffron (and by the Maestro’s own indications), it should be golden yellow.
Strain the chicken in a regular spaghetti-strainer, discarding all but a couple spoonfuls of cooking fat. Return to the casserole with the little fat and add the broth with the eggs and spices, and salt to taste. Make sure you arrange everything homogeneously in the casserole, and, over low fire, let simmer for about 10 minutes, ensuring that the dish never gets dry. For that purpose, keep some warm broth handy, and sprinkle it on the chicken as needed. Stir often, but always ensure that every piece has a chance to cook well and to absorb the delicious condiment.
When it’s done, arrange the chicken in a shallow serving dish and, as you bring to the table, sprinkle some parsley over it.
How good is this dish? It is as fabulous to eat as it is catchy to the eye, with its bright golden yellow color and the truly fantastic mix of spices.
If, as I do, you feel bad about throwing away the egg-whites, fry them in the duck fat in tiny 3-inch teflon cups, adding salt, pepper, sugar, plus a tad of all the other spices mentioned above (minus the saffron), and serve as an accompaniment.
A nice, crisp Northeastern white makes a joyful complement to this dish–which is sure to amaze your guests every time you make it.
Note: you may use different kinds of meat for this dish–from veal to beef to game-birds to lamb–although chicken is my favorite.