Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chicken Marbella

Chicken Marbella is one of those recipes, like the Bacardi Rum Bundt Cake, that though it has been around for ages, until relatively recently, I was completely unaware of it. In the 1970's Chicken Marbella was a popular party dish and the first main course to be offered at The Silver Palate food shop (before there was a cookbook, and all the rest that's now the legacy of Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins). I had never heard of this dish, until about five years ago, when my youngest daughter spent a week with a girlfriend and her family who'd moved to Oregon. I always want to know what foods people experience when they are on trips and adventures, but my obsession with home cooking means I am particularly interested in the foods my friends and family eat at other people's houses. When I asked her what her friend's mom had cooked for them, she was particularly impressed with what she described as 'this really good chicken-thing that had green olives and maybe prunes in it,' which is not what I was ever expecting to hear from a young teen. At first I thought maybe she was mistaken, but no, that is just what Chicken Marbella is, and it is really delicious.

Chicken Marbella
Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins
Serves 4

Mix marinade:
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 T. dried oregano
1/8 t. pepper
1/4 t. salt
2 T. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
1/3 c. pitted prunes, cut in half
1/4 c. green olives
2 T. capers with juice
2 bay leaves
Place 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces (or an equivalent number of preferred pieces), in a glass dish or a large Ziploc bag. Pour marinade over and refrigerate overnight to several days.

To cook, lay chicken pieces in a baking dish with marinade -or use a baking glass dish to marinate the chicken, taking it out of the fridge an hour or so before baking. Pour over 1/4 c. white wine or dry sherry (this time I added 1/4 c. homemade rhubarb wine to the marinade instead of adding it here). Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 c. brown sugar and bake 350 degrees for about an hour.

I served some corn on the cob and edamames we froze last summer with this, as well as some roasted potatoes that I put in to cook alongside the baking chicken, for a very easy, very delicious, mostly-farm-raised family dinner.

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