Golden Oldies

Some things are just too good to be replaced.  Do you remember the nursery rhyme: “make new friends and keep the old; one is silver and the other’s gold!”?  That rhyme danced through my head during a recent dinner.  We were at a dear friend’s birthday party and the main dish was Chicken Marbella. 

Chicken Marbella hails from Shiela Lukins and Julie Rosso’s brilliant Silver Palate Cookbook, published first in 1979.  This dish is the perfect dinner party fare: it is made it in advance; it is super easy; and, everybody loves it.  The irony is that the ingredient list is comprised of things that don’t sound that appetizing on their own, let alone mixed together!  But, in case you have not tried it, don’t let the mixture of prunes, capers, olives and sugar frighten you.  Trust me; one bite will convince you that something spectacular can come out of such seemingly random ingredients!   

Chicken Marbella is a dish worth having in your cooking retinue-not only for the ease and comfort it affords you as a host, but for the contented looks on your guests faces at the end of the evening.  How grateful I am to my dear friend and her birthday for reminding me that there are some oldies but goodies that should never be forgotten.

Chicken Marbella from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julie Rosso & Sheila Lukins-serves 10-12

4 chickens, 2 1/2 lbs each, quartered

1 head of garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 c. dried oregano

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 c. red wine vinegar

1/2 c. olive oil

1 c. pitted prunes

1/2 c. Spanish green olives

1/2 c. capers, with a bit of juice

6 bay leaves

1 c. brown sugar

1 c. white wine

1/4 c. Italian parsley or cilantro, finely chopped

1. In a large bowl combine chicken, garlic, oregano, pepper and salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

2.  Preheat oven to 350

3. Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly.  Sprinkle the chicken with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.

4. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently.  Chicken is finished when the juices from the thickest part of the thigh run clear yellow-rather than pink-when pricked with a fork.

5.  With a slotted spoon transfer the chicken, olives, prunes and capers to a serving dish.  Moisten the meat with several spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro.  Pass the remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.

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2 Comments

  1. Sarah
    Posted February 4, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I also find this is a crowd pleaser! Needed dinner for 30 and made several platters. My sister was visiting a week later, opened the bottom over, and voila!…a platter forgotten. The cooking process and mixture of ingredients had left the dish looking pretty good. Thought it would be pushing the limits of food safety though to pop it in the microwave and serve it again!

  2. Debby
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 8:46 am | Permalink | Reply

    This is a standard in my, admittedly limited, repertoire. I’ve made it with boneless chicken cut into bite-size pieces–it cooks a little faster and is easier to eat. The leftovers are even better than the original serving.

    I’m loving your blog. Waiting for the tv show!

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