Monday, February 8, 2010

sunday dinner

After reading a recipe for Chicken with Olives by Lidia Bastianich from her cookbook Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy, it reminded me of a recipe that I’ve been making for years from the Silver Palate Cookbook called Chicken Marbella. Chicken Marbella not only includes the brine cured green olives like Lidia’s but also has the distinctive flavors of prunes and capers, the combination of which has long been a family favorite. The only draw back on the Silver Palate recipe is that I have to be slightly more organized in my meal planning because the recipe requires overnight marinating.

So for years I have obeyed, not wanting to deviate in the least bit in fear of dry, un-flavorful chicken. Well, I believe I have found a happy medium in following the process in Lidia’s recipe but using the ingredients I’ve come to love from the Silver Palate girls. It must have been skillet simmering that did the trick, turning butter, wine, garlic as well as the capers, olives and prunes into a sauce that tasted, and smelled, as if it had been hours in the making. I served it in shallow bowls, so that every last drop of the flavorful sauce could be sopped up by a crusty french loaf. The result: moist and delicious. Plus, it was a pretty quick throw together for a simple Sunday dinner.


Chicken Marbella My Way
Serves 4

1 3-4 lb. chicken, cut up into 10 pieces
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
5 garlic cloves, peeled and slightly smashed
4 bay leaves, preferably fresh
1 cup brine-cured green olives
1 cup pitted prunes
¼ cup capers with a bit of juice
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine

Rinse the chicken pieces, and pat dry with paper towels. Trim off excess skin and all visible fat. Cut drumsticks off the thighs; cut breast halves into two pieces each. Season chicken all over with salt.

Put olive oil and butter in the pan, and set over medium-low heat. When the butter is melted and hot, lay in the chicken pieces, skin side down, in a single layer; drop the garlic cloves and bay leaves in the spaces between them.

Cover the pan and let the chicken cook over gentle heat, browning slowly and releasing its fat and juices. After about 10 minutes, uncover the pan, turn the pieces, and move them around the pan to cook evenly, and then replace the cover. Turn again in 10 minutes of so and continue cooking covered.

After the chicken has cooked for 30 minutes, scatter the olives, prunes and capers onto the pan bottom, around the chicken. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top of the chicken pieces and pour wine around each piece. Raise the heat so the liquid is bubbling, cover, and cook, gradually concentrating the juices, for about five minutes.

Remove the lid and cook uncovered, evaporating the pan juices, occasionally turning the chicken pieces gently until the pan juices thicken and coat the meat like a glaze.

Turn off heat and serve the chicken right from the skillet, or heap the pieces on a platter or in a shallow serving bowl. Serve with a loaf of crusty bread for sopping up every last wonderful drop.