31 August 2009

The Silver Palate Cookbook

Sheila Lukins 1942 --2009

Sheila Lukins lost her battle with brain cancer on Sunday. The 1980's were a time of Pac-man, Ronald Regan, Live-Aid, Punk Rock and Michael Jackson, and John Hughes and Sheila Lukins. No kitchen was complete without that big red The Silver Palate Cookbook. Along with Julee Rosso, Lukins dragged that working woman into the kitchen.

They made The Silver Palate Cookbook one of the most widely read cookbooks in the last 50 years. There were several books in the series, and a tiny cooking shop in New York. Lukins succeeded Julia Child as the food editor at Parade, writing the "Simply Delicious" column for 23 years.

Chicken Marbella was the first main-course at The Silver Palate and remains a favorite to this day. If you are having a party, use this recipe, if it's just you and the family, scale it back a bit.

Chicken Marbella

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


1. 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.

2. Preheat oven to 350° F.

3. 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.

4. 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

5. 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.

6. 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 juice over chicken.

I you were alive in the 1980's someone fed you this chicken. For those of us who remember the 80's, it has been a tough few weeks filled with a great deal of lose. What we all need is a cathartic, 1980's, big hair blow out. Gather your family and friends and cook up a jumbo sized portion of Chicken Marbella while you listen to Thriller. After dinner, stick Ferris Bueller in the DVD player and wax nostalgic.

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