Friday, May 3, 2013

Chicken Marbella from Silver Palette

I made a big batch of Chicken Marbella (from the popular Silver Palette cookbook from the 80's) to have on hand while our household was turned upside down during the last 3 months with contractors here working on our master bathroom. 

Chicken Marbella has many fans, and probably just as many people who don't understand why people like it.  It has olives, capers, prunes, lots of garlic and oregano, tangy vinegar and fruity olive oil, white wine, bay leaves, brown sugar. 

We are fans! But think it is even better if you add some heat to counteract all of the sweetness -- we use hot cherry peppers or red pepper flakes.

We do batches of legs and thighs, with the bone in (versus chicken quarters) but you could do whatever chicken part you like. 

The first time, while it is still hot from the oven, we serve it with grilled asparagus.  Then cool it down and freeze it in 4 cup containers we can pull out to make quick additional meals.

Next, we make the leftovers into a pasta dish, using penne and the pan juices, and the meat removed from the bone. It is good either warm or cold.

But, our new favorite version uses Tom's Graduate School Chicken technique:  We put basmati rice in the bottom of a casserole with the appropriate amount of chicken stock to cook the rice, add sliced hot cherry peppers, then layer the leftover Chicken Marbella with pan juices on top, cover it and bake it for an hour until the edges of the rice get brown and crispy like paella. 

Note:  Chicken Marbella must be marinated over night to keep it moist, so plan ahead.

Chicken Marbella
(Silver Palette, page 86)

Serves a lot! Good for a party dish.

4 Chickens, 2.5 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
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice (we used the whole jar)
6 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine (be generous)
1/4 Italian parsley, finely chopped

Our addition -- Optional:  sliced hot cherry peppers or dried red pepper flakes, to taste

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.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange the 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) juices.

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.  Pour remaining pan juices into a sauce boat and serve along with chicken.

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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