The history of Spain is full of gastronomic exchanges between nations. So many different cultures coexisted within the country, and they continue to form a part of the culinary history of the country's rich gastronomy.
Chicken in pepitoria sauce has roots in Arabic cuisine, as similar preparations have been used in the Middle East for many years. There are records of these recipes dating back to the 13th century. These dishes serve as a base for what has developed into a Spanish tradition.
This legendary dish, which has been passed down from generation to generation, has gradually lost relevance in the country. Few restaurants now offer this meal, and the custom of preparing this delicious food has been left behind in many homes. But it's never too late to rescue this essential piece of Spain's gastronomy. And because it's simple, quick, and the ingredients are relatively easy to find, it's a dish worth bringing back to the table.
What is pepitoria?
While meat may be the central component of most recipes, here the sauce is the real star. This is unlike any other sauce, as it has a very particular combination of ingredients: saffron, hard-boiled egg yolk, fried bread (with lots of seeds), and almonds. All these ingredients contribute to a super unique texture.
The traditional recipe uses chicken to make the dish, but any bird will do. Try it with turkey, for example. Or even rabbit, which has a similarly lean meat and soft flavor.
How to Prepare Chicken in Pepitoria Sauce
The secret behind this dish is to season the sauce well and let it cook long enough to get juicy and tender.
- 1 whole chicken, cut into large chunks
- 2 chicken livers
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 30 raw, blanched almonds
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 onions, julienned
- 2 slices bread with seeds (like pumpkin, sunflower, etc.)
- 1 1/4 cup white wine
- Extra-virgin olive oil
*You want to leave the bones in tact with the chicken pieces. Have your butcher prepare the chicken for you unless you have a hefty butcher knife at home that can cut through bones.
- Heat oil in a large pot. Add onions and cook until they become translucent. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the chicken to the pan and brown, working in batches to not crowd the pan. Set chicken aside.
- Fry the bread in the same oil, then add the garlic and cook.
- Add the almonds, wine, and livers to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Once cooked, blend the sauce using an immersion blender until you have a smooth sauce.
- Add the chicken back to the sauce and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the chicken for about one hour over very low heat.
- Meanwhile, prepared the boiled eggs, peel them, and let them cool. Remove the egg yolks and set aside in a small bowl. Chop the whites and set aside.
- Toast the saffron by placing it on a piece of foil and lighting a match underneath for a few minutes.
- Mash the egg yolks with saffron and then add to the pot of chicken.
- The sauce will concentrate as it cooks. If the sauce seems too thick, add water to thin it out.
- Once cooked, taste for salt.
- Serve the chicken with the sauce and top with the chopped egg whites. Serve with salad, potatoes, or white rice. ¡Buen provecho!
Tips for a Spectacular Chicken in Pepitoria Sauce
- For a slightly less fatty dish, you can remove the chicken skin. This is totally optional.
- Some people infuse the saffron with hot water before mashing with the egg, as this can intensify the aroma.
- Potatoes are a traditional accompaniment but you can also serve with rice, bread, and/or a salad.