Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chicken Marabella

In my Chicken with Clementines and Arak post, you may recall that I talked about Chicken Marabella, a recipe from the wildly popular cookbook of the 80’s, The Silver Palate Cookbook.

I decided to surprise my crew and make this dish on Wednesday. 

Memories would surely follow. 

As we were sitting happily eating our dinner and chatting away, Architect mentioned that she first had this dish at Foodie’s house twenty-something years ago (that’s how far back our friendships span).  At first, I didn’t think I ever had Chicken Marabella, but the flavors reminded me otherwise….there was something about the union of chicken, olives, prunes, capers and wine that was quite familiar. I may have also enjoyed this dish with them many, many years ago when cell phones were the size of Shaquille O’Neal’s shoe and the idea of an on-line diary (now a “blog”) was just a twinkle in some techie’s eye.

If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, I’m pretty sure he would have written the first blog post, immediately after he invented the Internet.

Sorry Al.

Anyway, Wednesday was indeed my inaugural preparation of this all-time favorite, which was the first entrĂ©e ever offered at The Silver Palate Gourmet Food Shop in New York City.

Nestled in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, The Silver Palate was a 165 square foot-little gem of a shop with a simple mission:  to prepare and offer good, simple food and a one-stop-shop to buy cheese, bread, pastries, salads and main courses, along with a pleasant place to enjoy people and European-like ambiance.  The restaurants founders, Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins retired from the restaurant business in 1988 (you can read the NY Times article here) but 274 Columbus Avenue still offers bakery, coffee and tea fare at the renamed Arte Around the Corner.

New York City has thousands of little culinary jewels sprinkled around the city.  It’s sad one pioneer eatery that introduced a generation to delicious, beautiful, and flawlessly prepared food is gone, despite the fact that it closed 26 years ago.

Chicken Marabella
From:  The Silver Palate Cookbook

5 lbs chicken (I used skinless, boneless breasts and thighs)
1 head garlic, peeled and finely pureed (I just used a garlic press)
1/8 cup dried oregano
Coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pitted prunes
1/4 cup pitted Spanish green olives, sliced in half
1/4 cup capers with a bit juice
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine (I used a nice Steven Kent Chardonnay; to quote across-the-street-neighbor…"if you won’t drink it, don’t cook with it!")
1/4 cup Italian parsley

In a large bowl or zip lock bag 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.  I have read reviews that suggest you can skip this step; I wouldn't because it keeps the baked chicken moist.  Plus, marinating makes the chicken more juicy, tender and flavorful, absorbing the acids, oils and herbs that work together to perform their magic

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange chicken in a single layer in a large shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them. Bake 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.  Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat. 

I served this dish on the perfect platter adorned with beautiful sunflowers and rich colors....very Italian.

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