Saturday, January 22, 2011

Have you ever prepared a dish that you think is possibly the most perfect thing you ever ate? Rest assured, it doesn’t happen often. Now, let me say, Prime Rib and a Porterhouse Steak are purely perfect, they stand on their own. This dish brings a combination of foods and flavors to bring you the perfect “dish”.

About 25 years ago - a “wondrous jewel of a food store” opened on Manhattan's Upper West Side. It was christened The Silver Palate. Its purpose was to prepare food as though it were cooked at home and have it ready for their thousands of customers to pick up and take home.

In November 2007, the Cookbook of the Month was The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. It is a wonderful real “go to” cookbook. Among the many recipes is Chicken Marbella.

Chicken Marbella was the first main-course dish 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 marinating 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.

As I said, a most perfect food….

Chicken Marbella for 12 (recipe may be halved to serve 6)

photographer unknown
4 chickens, 2 1/2 pounds each, quartered
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano
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, whole
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Somerset Ridge Chardonnay
1/4 cup Italian parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine chicken quarters, 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.

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

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 sauceboat. It is marvelous served with Polenta, Mashed Potatoes or Rice Pilaf.

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 juices over chicken.

Okay, back up….see that line “Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.”? Don’t skip this part, no matter what you might be thinking of chicken with brown sugar. Trust me! This dish, comprised of chicken, prunes, capers and olives is incredible.

I hope to be interviewing Jeanne Mackay of The Tasteful Olive, in downtown Overland Park, early next week. We have discussed the possibility of me designing several recipes featuring her wonderful olive oils and balsamic vinegars, maybe next week we will figure it out. Have you tried her Blood Orange Infused Olive Oil yet? Please do, it is heavenly! Check out her blog
So, stay tuned, more to come!

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