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Chicken with capers, olive, figs and herbs

The return of Chicken Marbella

Keri White | Contributing Writer

Chicken Marbella was a popular dinner party dish in the 1990s. Its sweet/savory blend is appealing, and the ingredients list is rather unique.

Despite the apparent complexity of the dish, the preparation is wildly simple.

The original came from the Silver Palate Cookbook, and used whole chickens cut into pieces. Someone described the dish to me, and I created this version using boneless breasts, but you could certainly use any cut desired. This is a great dish to make when hosting a gathering (it multiplies easily) because the prep is done ahead and the sauce makes itself as the chicken bakes.

The variety of colors, flavors and textures deliver a pretty, show-stopping entrée, and the effort by the cook is fairly minimal.

I have not tried it, but I suspect this preparation would work well with boneless lamb shoulder. It would require increased marinating, a longer cooking time and I would cover the pan for most of the time in the oven, but it has potential.

The dish has a lot going on. For that reason, the best accompaniments are basic flavors — brown or white rice, crusty bread, simple green salad or steamed vegetables.

Because the main course has a good bit of sweetness to it, I suggest keeping dessert simple — some packaged cookies, a tart sorbet or dark chocolates.

 

Chicken Marbella

 

4 boneless chicken breasts

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon coarse salt

Lots of fresh cracked pepper

¼ cup white vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup pitted prunes, quartered

½ cup green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon capers with juice

½ cup white wine

¼ cup brown sugar

 

In a large Tupperware or Ziploc bag, mix the garlic, salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, prunes, capers and olives. Add the chicken to coat, and marinate for 2-24 hours. In a large baking dish, pour the chicken mixture. Be sure the chicken pieces are in a single layer; spoon the marinade over and around the chicken. Pour the wine and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the chicken.  Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, basting frequently, until done.

Serves 4

 

Winter Greens Chopped Salad

This salad uses the hardy greens of winter for a fresh counterpoint to the main dish. Chopping the ingredients enables them to absorb the dressing a bit more easily. Because the greens are fairly robust, this is a good move.

The dressing has a touch of sweetness to balance out the bitterness of the greens. You can dress this ahead of time (an hour or so) to allow the flavors to meld.

 

6 cups chopped mixed winter greens: cabbage, kale, escarole and radicchio. Choose your favorites, and use different colors for visual appeal.

4 carrots, shredded

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

½ teaspoon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Mix the greens and carrots in a large salad bowl. Mix the dressing in a small bowl, whisking with a fork to blend. Toss, then let the salad sit for 30 minutes at room temperature to blend flavors, or serve immediately.

Serves 4

 

 

Kabucha: my new favorite squash

Keri White | Contributing Writer

On a recent ramble through the farmers market, a sign caught my eye: “Kabucha, $2.00/lb, tastes like chestnuts.”

I’ve always been a fan of the taste of chestnuts, but not the hand-destroying labor it takes to get at the meat. The boiling. The hashing of the impossibly hard shells. The roasting. The peeling. Oy, it’s enough to make anyone swear them off for life. But the idea that a simple-to-cook squash could deliver that taste was intriguing.

I inquired of the farmer and he confirmed that the squash, also called kabocha and Japanese pumpkin, does indeed mimic the flavor of chestnuts — with the sweetness and texture of an autumn squash. It is similar to pumpkins, butternut or acorn squash, but a bit more interesting.

Kabuchas are harvested in the fall and are often picked before they are fully ripe. They are stored at a warm temperature to ripen and sweeten, then stored cold for about a month to refine the texture. For this reason, they are often available through the winter.

The farmer advised that roasted kabucha was wonderful with roast chicken, which was fortuitous as that was my meal plan for the evening. I bought the kabocha and ferried it home.

It came out beautifully — velvet and sweet and starchy enough to deliver comfort food decadence without the guilt or fat associated with, say, mashed potatoes. It was relatively easy to handle in terms of cutting and removing pits, and the skin can be eaten so no peeling is required.

Nutritionally, kabucha is a powerhouse. It is an excellent source of beta carotene and vitamins A and C. It also contains decent amounts of vitamin B6, B12, folate and manganese.

The roasted kabucha was delicious with our roast chicken, just as the farmer promised, and the leftovers were heavenly chopped into bite-sized chunks and served cold over a winter green salad.

 

Roasted Kabucha

1large, ripe kabucha

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

 

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the kabucha in half, remove the seeds and cut it into wedges. Place the wedges on a rimmed cooking sheet, skin side down, and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 40 minutes until the kabucha is soft and cooked through. JN

 

These recipes originally appeared in the Jewish Exponent, a Jewish News-affiliated publication.

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