Monday, July 27, 2009

Menu 8: A Second Spanish-influenced dinner

Chicken Marbella
Now that we have the pronunciation straight, we can proceed. Within the last year I have discovered that not everyone shares my affinity for sweet and savory in the same dish. I recently mentioned Chicken Marbella to Jessie, a dear friend of a friend, who said that she would never fix anything that had chicken and prunes together. She just wasn’t drawn to those combinations. What you have probably noticed by now is that I am drawn to those combinations. In fact, they jump off the page of a cookbook and into my lap. Sweet and salty. Raisins and bacon. My mouth waters. I want you to know that I fully confess to this affinity and won’t take offense if you don’t share it.

What is really great about Chicken Marbella is its ease: you can marinate the day before, then put it in your pots or pans, pour in the wine and sprinkle sugar, and bake. None of that nasty browning business. The thighs are much more forgiving than chicken breasts which tend to dry out.

8-10 chicken thighs, skin and extra fat removed
½ head of garlic, peeled and pressed
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1 cup pitted green olives
¼ cup capers with a bit of juice
3 bay leaves
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup wine
2 tablespoons chopped flatleaf parsley or cilantro

1. In a large bowl, combine the chicken thighs, garlic, oregano, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Add the salt and pepper. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight. You can also make it in the morning and refrigerate for the day.
2. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
3. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large shallow baking pans or clay pots and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when the juice from the thighs runs clear, not pink, when pricked.
5. If you’ve cooked in the clay pots, then leave them as they are. If you’ve cooked in not-so-pretty pans, transfer the thighs, prunes, olives and capers with a slotted spoon to a serving platter, moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and pass the remaining juices in a small pitcher. Sprinkle the clay pots or the platter generously with parsley or cilantro.
Note: This dish can be served right out of the oven or at room temperature.

4-6 servings
Adapted from Julee Ross and Sheila Lukins’ The Silver Palate Cookbook

Coconut Rice
This rice is actually Cuban, but it goes with the Marbella so nicely. Both speak Spanish fluently. The photo doesn't reveal how tasty this dish is. Delicious. But not very visually stimulating.

2 tablespoons oil or butter
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger
1½ cups basmati rice
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (comes in a can)
1½ cups water
1 teaspoon salt

1. Heat oil or butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, but not brown, about 1 minute. Add the rice and sauté until the individual grains are shiny, about 1 minute.
2. Add the coconut milk, water, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and cook the rice until all of the liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and let the rice stand, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve at once.

If you want to make it a bit ahead of time, you can rewarm it in a low oven.

4-6 servings
Adapted from Steven Raichlen’s Miami Spice

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
I am crazy about these tomatoes, especially the cherry tomatoes. Fresh sliced regular tomatoes or cherry tomatoes would be great with this meal as well. Both the roasted and fresh add a necessary color to the plate.

3 pounds small to medium tomatoes of any kind or color
2-3 boxes of cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Cut the regular tomatoes in half crosswise and remove the seeds.
Poke a hole in each of the cherry tomatoes.
2. Place in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Mix together.
3. Place the cherry tomatoes or the regular tomatoes with their cut side up in a single layer on low-sided pans lined with parchment paper or silpat. Roast in a 350ºF oven. No need to preheat. You can use convection mode on either roast or bake if your oven has that feature.
4. Bake in the oven until the skins are wrinkled and juices evaporated somewhat. The flesh should still be moist and soft to the touch. For regular tomatoes, count on 1-2 hours; for cherry tomatoes, one hour should be sufficient. If you are using convection, the times will be shorter. You can remove the tomatoes that are starting to caramelize (and potentially burn) if you desire.
5. Remove from the oven and cool.

4 servings
Adapted from a Ramekin’s cooking class taught by Mary Karlin, August 2004.


Jennifer said...

Silver Palate's Chicken Marbella is my favorite 'go to' recipe for large parties.
Is that a David Marsh bookshelf? I have one in my kitchen. I was very sad to hear he is no longer making furniture.

j-e-t-s said...

I just made Katharine's version of Chicken Marbella last week, to rave reviews (well, at least 1 rave review...from my wife). I hadn't used chicken thighs before, nor used the brown sugar - both did make a difference. One thing I learned along the way - I bought a can of green olives from Whole Foods and dumped them in, and then tasted one of them...yuck! Fortunately I had also bought a tub of Mt. Athos olives (with a little spice in them) which worked just fine. Such a fun, easy recipe! Thanks, Katharine!