A Chicago reader forwards this recipe for a pungently sauced chicken dish taken from a Latin cook book dated 1475. Since it uses ingredients native to the Mediterranean basin and commonly used in native cookery throughout the Iberian peninsula as well as Italy and Greece, it offers our readers an opportunity to savor a dish that might well have titillated the palate of a conquistadore or o discoverer in the earliest days of New World colonization.
Call it Chicken Cabrillo — or Coq au Columb — or Pollo Portola — by any name, it’s a gastronomic venture into the culinary aspect of our Latin heritage.
2 broiler chickens, 2 lb. each quartered
2 T parsley chopped fine
1 sprig fresh mint or l½ tsp. dried mint
l½ tsp. pepper
l½ tsp. salt
l½ tsp. powdered saffron
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups seedless grapes
Fry bacon until crisp in large iron skillet. Remove from pan and drain on absorbent paper. Crumble and set aside.
Brown chicken slowly in bacon fat. Transfer chicken to large Dutch oven or pan and keep warm.
Crush together 1 T parsley, mint, pepper, salt and saffron. Sprinkle over chicken.
Add chicken broth to residue in frying pan; cook to boiling. Stir well and pour over chicken. Cover tightly and cook gently over low heat until chicken is tender, about 30 minutes.
Drain off juice into small saucepan. Boil rapidly to syrup-like consistency, about 5 minutes. Then pour back over chicken. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and bacon bits; add grapes and serve.