We’re feeling a pang for the recently departed Sheila Lukins, arbiter of 1980s food tastes, including the then-unheard-of raspberry vinegar. We recently snapped up a copy of one of the best-selling cookbooks of all time, Lukins’ Silver Palate Cookbook.
This baby holds the coveted recipe for Chicken Marbella, a culinary marvel and memory maker.
In the ’80s, you couldn’t go to a dinner party or a picnic in the park without somebody serving it. The weird-sounding blend of olives, capers and prunes was the first main-course dish to be offered at the famous New York shop. It swept like wildfire into households everywhere, and for good reason. It’s fabulous.
We’re toying with the idea of serving it as chicken wings or chicken tenders. But first, we’re going to cook it old school in homage to Lukins as we lovingly pore over her hand-drawn illustrations and bright tasting creations that remain as relevant today as ever.
Recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook
“This is good hot or at room temperature. When prepared with small drumsticks and wings, it makes a delicious hors d’oeuvre. The overnight marinating is essential to the moistness of the finished product: the chicken keeps and even improves over several days of refrigeration; it travels well and makes excellent picnic fare. Since Chicken Marbella is such a spectacular party dish, we give quantities to serve 10 to 12, but the recipe can be divided to make smaller amounts if you wish.”
4 chickens, 2 1/2 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
6 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup Italian parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
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.
Arrange 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) 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 or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.
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 juices over chicken.
FROM THE “THAT WAS THEN” FILES…
Fisher Stevens looked like a middle aged man in this ’80s Seventeen magazine recipe for Spanish chicken, but he was only 21:
The recipe stands the test of time. It is simple and tasty.
FISHER’S FAMOUS CHICKEN
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1 medium broiler/frying chicken, cut into eighths
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green and 1 red pepper, cut into strips
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
3/4 cup small black olives, pitted
In a pie plate or shallow dish, mix flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Roll chicken parts in mixture until completely coated. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Place chicken parts in skillet; cook until golden brown on all sides. Remove chicken from skillet, and set aside. Using same skillet you browned chicken in, saute chopped onion, garlic and peppers over medium heat, stirring often until onion is soft and transparent. Add broth and tomato paste, and deglaze skillet by scraping up any browned chicken bits that remain on its surface; stir until sauce is smooth and well-blended. Return chicken to skillet, then add tomato wedges and olives. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 25 minutes. Serves four to six.