Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chicken Marbella

IThis recipe is adapted from a recipe of the same name in the original Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. When this cookbook was first published, I think I was served Chicken Marbella at three dinner parties in a row. Now 25 years later, this recipe is less used and is a great dish for entertaining. Although the original recipe calls for 4 whole chickens, quartered, I use 2-3 (depending on size) bone in or boneless (easier to eat) second joints, per person. To keep fat content down I buy skinless chicken or remove the skin and any extra fat. I have had this dish made with boneless chicken breasts but the breasts seemed over-cooked (breasts are much easier to over-cook in liquids than is dark meat). I use the cilantro option and serve warm with farfalle (bow-tie pasta) or more recently, my favorite: Trader Joe's Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta.

Notes from the cookbook:

"This was the first main-course dish to be offered at The Silver Palate, and the distinctive colors and flavors of the prunes, olives and capers have kept it a favorite for years. It’s good hot or at room temperature. When prepared with small drumsticks and wings, it makes a delicious hors d’oeuvre.

The overnight marination is essential to the moistness of the finished product: the chicken keeps and even improves over several days of refrigeration; it travels well and makes excellent picnic fare.

Since Chicken Marbella is such a spectacular party dish; we give quantities to serve 10 to 12, but the recipe can successfully be divided to make a smaller amount if you wish."

In a large bowl combine chicken, garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves.Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.   [Note: I often don't plan ahead and only marinate for ~ half a day. Also to save pans, I put the chicken thighs arranged flat in one or more shallow baking dishes and pour/sprinkle  the other ingredients over them.  I then (with clean hands) mix all ingredients well, turning the chicken several times while it marinates but arranging the chicken pieces flat before cooking.]

4 chickens, 2 1/2 pounds each, quartered [see above use boneless, skinless second
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano [I usually use Italian Spices]
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves [I omit; if used, remove before serving]

1/4 cup Italian parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with:

1 cup brown sugar [I use much less sugar; 1/3 - 1/4 cup]

and then pour around the pieces:

1 cup white wine

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice.

With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauce boat.

I've never tried this but the recipe states: "To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in cooking juices before transferring to a serving platter. If chicken has been covered and refrigerated, allow it to return to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the reserved juice over chicken."

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