Chicken Marbella

September:National Chicken Month

Life is always busy and, we admit, that it seems like we rely on take-out foods too much. But after discovering how easy it is to prepare Chicken Marbella, we can plan ahead for a quick and flavorful weeknight dinner.

This recipe is an iconic and original one for the Silver Palate restaurant (established in 1977 and closed in 1993) in Manhattan, New York. Long before the popular eatery opened, chefs Julee Russo and Sheila Lukins wanted to cook comfort foods for their guests and Chicken Marbella was created with ingredients, including chicken and pitted Spanish green olives, they already had in their own kitchen. It was a simple but delicious dish for their dinner party that they put it on their menu and named it after one of their favorite places, Club Marbella (pronounced mar-BAY-yah), in Spain. Chicken Marbella continues to be the most popular recipe in their Silver Palate Cookbook, published in 1982.

This famous chicken dish is one of the popular and favorite dishes at our home, too, because of its simple preparation and symphony of flavors. Try it and make Marbella Chicken during National Chicken Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from The Silver Palate)

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup pitted prunes
  • ¼ cup pitted Spanish green olives
  • ¼ cup capers plus juice
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 chicken thighs (or other favorite pieces)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1-22 tablespoons fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or cilantro, chopped plus extra for garnish

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes and olives.

Stir in the capers with juice. Add bay leaves, minced garlic and oregano.

Salt and pepper to taste. In the bowl or zipper top plastic bag, marinate the chicken in this mixture for at least three hours or overnight.

Transfer to a foil lined baking sheet, arranging the chicken in a single layer with the marinade and prunes, olives and capers around it. Pour white wine around the pan. Sprinkle the tops of the chicken skin with brown sugar. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45-55 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (adjust the timing for chicken pieces other than thighs). Baste the chicken in the juices 2-3 times while baking.

Remove from the oven and put the chicken, prunes, olives and capers on a separate platter or serving dish. Baste with some of the pan juices. Optional steps: Place remaining pan juices into a small skillet. Boil until reduced to half. Strain the sauce over the chicken. Serve hot over rice, couscous or curly egg noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro.

Notes

  • We halved the original recipe to feed just to two of us.
  • Chicken Marbella may be served cold/at room temperature.
  • This is a popular recipe during the Jewish Passover Seder.
  • Search our blog for more chicken recipes for National Chicken Month.

Chicken Fricassee

February: Presidents’ Day (third Monday in February)

The third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743-July 4, 1826), is credited as being America’s first epicurean. Through his travels and work in international relations, he developed a penchant for fine and foreign foods. From Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean and South America, he imported vegetables like okra, lima beans, eggplants, garlic, peanuts, peppers, tomatoes and olive oil. From Europe, France in particular, he made popular French cuisine and asked his chefs to prepare it often.

Chicken fricassee is an adaptation of a classic French stew, which includes making a roux. This dish was one of the favorites of the “Founding Foodie” (some sources also note that chicken fricassee was loved by the 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln). So make this comfort food, which is perfect for Presidents’ Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from CD Kitchen)

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds chicken pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • oil for frying
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white cooking wine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup half and half cream

Directions

Season the chicken pieces with salt, pepper, nutmeg and paprika. In a large pot, heat the oil and fry the chicken until browned. Transfer to a plate.

In the same pot, add the flour and cook in the chicken fat-oil until light brown, adding the water a little at a time to make a smooth sauce. Stir in the wine. Put the chicken back in the pot, cover, and simmer on low heat for 45-50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking, chop the onions, slice the mushrooms, chop the sage and parsley. When the chicken is cooked, transfer to a plate. Strain the gravy in a bowl and set aside. In the same pot, melt the butter over low heat.

Sauté the onions with the mushrooms. Stir in the chopped sage and parsley.

Return the chicken and gravy to the pot. Stir in the cream to thicken. Serve hot over pasta or rice.

Notes

  • Chicken fricassee is popular in the South. Jefferson was a Southerner from Virginia. Islander has met some Cajuns from Louisiana at the local culinary book club in Texas and they introduced her to this recipe.
  • Search our blog for other presidential and patriotic recipes.

Engagement Chicken

March 20: National Proposal Day

Is the way to a prince’s heart through his stomach? Many have speculated that American actress Meghan Markle’s roast chicken dinner impressed Prince Harry of Wales so much that he proposed to her!

Other women have claimed that when they cooked a heartwarming lemony-herbed roast chicken for their boyfriends, they finally proposed, too. The “magical” recipe, which originated from Glamour magazine in the early 2000s, earned a reputation for its power it has over guys to “pop the question” and thus has been dubbed “engagement chicken”!

Believe the sexist tale or not, engagement chicken is still a tasty comfort food that is relatively simple to make for loved ones. Whether for a prince, significant other, family or friends, roast chicken is perfect to cook any day but especially on National Proposal Day.

Recipe I

This is the version we adapted by Chef Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, which Meghan Markle alluded to in her BBC interview, stating that she and Prince Harry cooked it together for dinner the night he proposed to her.

Ingredients

  • 1 (5-6 pound) whole roasting chicken
  • salt and pepper
  • bunch of fresh thyme
  • 2 lemons (one cut in half, another cut in wedges)
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thick
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour

Directions

Remove the giblets from the chicken and rinse inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels. Generously salt and pepper inside of the chicken. Stuff it with half a bunch of thyme. Place two halves of a lemon and garlic inside of the chicken.

Put on a roasting pan. Rub the skin of the chicken with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Tie the chicken legs with cooking twine. Secure the wing tips to the chicken with toothpicks. Place in a large roasting pan. Put onion and lemon wedges around it.

Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for 1½ hours until juices run clear. Baste occasionally. Remove from the oven and cover with foil while making the gravy.

Remove twine and toothpicks. Discard the garlic, thyme stems, fat and lemon halves and wedges (and seeds) from the roasting pan, reserving the onions and two tablespoons of juices. Place the onions and juices into a saucepan with the chicken stock. Boil on high heat for about five minutes until reduced. Then stir in the flour and boil for a few more minutes until slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Strain the gravy into a boat. Serve hot with carved chicken pieces.

Recipe II

This is the version we adapted that originated from Glamour magazine and became an urban legend.

Ingredients

  • 1 (4-5pound) whole roasting chicken
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
  • 2-3 additional lemons
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • sprigs of fresh herbs to garnish (rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the giblets from the chicken and rinse inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels. Rub the lemon juice inside and outside. Season the inside with half the salt and pepper. Prick the lemons with the tines of a fork and insert inside the cavity of the chicken. Tie the legs with cooking twine.

Secure the wing tips to the chicken with toothpicks. Season the outside with the remaining salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan lined with foil breast side down. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake the chicken for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the chicken over breast side up and insert a meat thermometer in the thigh. Bake for another 1½ hours or more in 15-minute increments and until the thermometer reaches 180 degrees F.

Remove from the oven and baste with the pan juices. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes and transfer to a platter. Garnish with herbs. Serve hot with sides of roast vegetables.

Notes

  • The pan drippings from the engagement chicken used to baste and flavor this tender and tasty dish is called the “marry me juice”, according to Glamour magazine.
  • We garnish the engagement chicken with sprigs of herbs, roast vegetables (like carrots and potatoes) and/or extra lemon wedges. It makes for a pretty presentation especially for special occasions.
  • We like to serve engagement chicken to the couples we are sponsoring at our church through a marriage preparation ministry program. The dish is well liked by many, even by those who are picky eaters. Our couples enjoy hearing about the recipe’s reputation as well, and is a fun icebreaker and conversation starter for our meetings.