Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chicken Marbella and Amazing Salad Dressing

We had been looking forward to making this recipe for weeks.  Ever since Claire brought a little sample over one night, it's been on our list.  We just had to wait until the weather got a little colder and the grill seemed less inviting.  Don't let the classic Claire/Laura conundrum (Italian parsley or cilantro?) hold you back.  It's good with either!
Served with a side of sweet potatoes and green brown rice.
Chicken Marbella
Don't shy away from the list of ingredients. They might seem like an odd combination, but the capers, olives, and prunes in this dish combine perfectly and will make your mouth water.  The overnight marinade is essential as it lets all the flavors meld together, and adds moisture to the chicken.  Claire likes to marinade the chicken in 2 large Ziploc bags to keep the strong garlic flavor (it's a whole head, not just a clove!) from infusing everything in her refrigerator. To facilitate peeling a whole head's worth of garlic, I suggest smashing the individual cloves with a heavy can or the side of a knife.  Peel away the skin, and toss the garlic into the marinade.   

The original recipe, from the Silver Palate Cookbook, calls for 4 whole chickens (2 1/2 lbs each), but we used 2 slightly larger chickens with the same amount of marinade.  It was nice to have a little of the marinade to ladle over rice or pasta. The olives and capers make a robust brine, without being overpoweringly salty.  The recipe makes enough for a dinner party, a second (or third) meal, or enough for 2 families to share. I sliced one of the chicken breasts up the next day for a delicious sandwich.

1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1 c pitted prunes
1/2 c pitted Spanish olives with juice
1/2 c capers with juice
6 bay leaves
1 head garlic (peeled)
1/4 c dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 chickens cut into pieces, bone in and skin on  (or 10-12 chicken breasts with bone in skin on)

1 c brown sugar
1 c dry white wine (or madeira wine)
1/4 c fresh flat leaf parsley or cilantro

Combine olive oil, vinegar, prunes, capers, bay leaves, garlic oregano,salt and pepper.  Divide in half and pour into 2 Ziploc bags.  Marinate 24-48 hours. (Don't skip this!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange chicken in a single layer in 1-2 pans, and sprinkle each piece of chicken with brown sugar.  (Or drizzle with honey.) Pour in white wine. Bake for 55-60 minutes, basting with pan juices.  With slotted spoon transfer chicken, olives, prunes and capers  to serving platter.  Pour 2-3 spoonfuls of pan juice over top to moisten.  Sprinkle generously with chopped cilantro and or parsley, and serve with Green Rice or rice pilaf.

Amazing Vinaigrette
It's just salad dressing.  How can there possibly be anything amazing about it?  Maybe it's good, but amazing?  Claire did a little research and came up with this recipe, and let me tell you, it is amazing.  It's made in the blender with vegetable oil instead of olive oil, and it stays emulsified for days, no shaking, rattling, or rolling. I still have my batch from 5 days ago, and it's still blended. It's also creamy and a little bit sweet.  My kids have been asking for it over ranch dressing.  Consider adding a little bit of water if you like a thinner consistency. It still works. Claire served hers with arugula, spinach, cherry tomatoes, shaved parmesan, and homemade croutons.  I just served mine with homemade whole wheat croutons.

1 clove garlic
pinch of salt
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsp honey (to taste)
1/2 c vegetable oil

Blend together on high speed garlic, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, and vinegar for 1-2 minutes.  Slowly drizzle in vegetable oil, and continue to blend on high for 2 minutes.  It will become thick and creamy.  Store in fridge. 

Tell us if you try anything and leave us a comment!

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