From Historic Cookery, by Fabiola Cabeza de Vaca Gilbert
(Las Vegas, New Mexico, 1949).
Don’t even think of using a wan grocery-store chicken that will collapse when subjected to this cooking technique. Buy a young free-range fowl from your local farmer and enjoy not only every bite of your pepitoria, but also a half-gallon of wonderful collateral broth. Señora Gilbert wisely suggests steaming fresh peas to accompany.
• 1 free-range chicken (about 5 pounds)
• 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, plus more as needed
• freshly ground pepper
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 3 tablespoons neutral oil
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 2 cups of the stock from cooking the chicken
• 1 teaspoon saffron threads
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon oregano
• 1 teaspoon mint
• 1 cup white wine
• chopped parsley to garnish
Cut chicken into serving pieces, and place, along with neck and giblets (except livers, which may be put to another use), in heavy soup pot; cover generously with cold water. Add 2 teaspoons salt; place over medium-low heat, lid ajar. Heat to just below a simmer excruciatingly slowly, skimming foam.
Cook over lowest possible heat until chicken is tender, but not falling apart. (Two hours for a big young backyard chicken.) Remove serving pieces of chicken carefully into a colander set over a bowl, leaving neck and giblets in pot to intensify broth.
Melt butter and oils in a big, heavy frying pan over medium-low heat. Meanwhile dump the flour in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and add chicken pieces one or two at a time, gently tossing and dredging with flour. Shake off surplus flour and arrange chicken pieces in frying pan without crowding. Fry golden brown on all sides, in batches if necessary.
Meanwhile, ladle 2 cups of broth out of soup pot. Skim off fat and crush in saffron. Steep 10 minutes.
As chicken finishes up, add onion to frying pan. Cook until translucent; add remaining ingredients and saffron broth. Gently stir and shake the pan as sauce thickens. Simmer very gently 10 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper and add more defatted stock to thin, if you like. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.