Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chicken Marbella

For years when I was dreaming of becoming a chef, The Silver Palate cookbook was my bible.  I thought everything in it was so chic, so delicious...except this recipe for Chicken Marbella that the authors raved about.  It was for chicken pieces marinated and cooked with prunes, green olives, and garlic among other things.  Even though I like those flavors, the combination puzzled and repulsed me.

Then one day a respected chef- colleague of mine mentioned that Chicken Marbella was her go-to party dish, and I decided to give it a try.  Now it's a go to dish for me, too.  Not only is it sublime, but the prep is mostly done the night before- making it perfect for weeknights as well as parties.

I've made some changes and have not peeked at the actual recipe in's my version:

Marinate the skinless chicken thighs overnight.  I always score the meat so the flavors can really penetrate.  The marinade is  a big clove of garlic (crushed), salt, about a quarter cup of brown sugar, 3T red wine vinegar (mild balsamic would be OK too), a bay leaf, a shake of oregano or Italian herb blend, half a cup of pitted green olives, half a cup of prunes, a big drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and 1 T of capers in brine.  I put everything in a big Ziplock and turn it over a few times during the marinating time.

The next day, simply dump it all into a baking dish, pour a little white wine over, sprinkle with a touch more brown sugar, and bake for about 50 minutes at 375'- until the chicken is definitely cooked through, browned, and the juices have reduced to a slightly syrupy consistency. Baste occasionally.  The chicken will be very moist and flavorful.  I served it with buttermilk mashed yukon gold potatoes, and roasted broccoli with cherry tomatoes.

Friday, March 6, 2009

New York Pizza? NOT!

A new pizza delivery place opened up around here promising New York Style Pizza.  My husband was all excited as he loves NY (and only NY) pizza.  Well.  This pizza had as much cheese on it as 4 New York Pizzas.  I love cheese.  I mean. Please.  But, come on, Wisconsinites, learn a little subtlety with the cheese already! Show some restraint!  Less is more, and more is way too much.

Yuk!  Look at these pictures and weep for us.  The crust was pliable under the toppings, but it was still all wrong.  A New York Pizza has an outer rim of puffed crust that is shatteringly crisp on the outside, pillowy soft on the inside.  It bends but does not snap when you fold the slice to bring it to your lips.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Parmesan Peppercorn Dressing

Remember the '80s?  Parmesan peppercorn dressing was on all the menus.  I still like it- more importantly, the basic formula is a good one to be familiar with- for improvising slaws, drizzles, dips....

Parmesan Peppercorn Dressing
1 cup real mayo
1 cup buttermilk or- sour cream if you dare
pinch sugar
splash vinegar or lemon (especially if you use sour cream)
salt to taste
Whisk together.  This is your creamy dressing base.  from here, you can go...lots of places.  Chipotle lime?  Sesame ginger?  Mixed herb?  Blue cheese?  Blue cheese and Bacon???  

But for this one, you need grated Parmesan..about 2/3 cup
Fresh ground black pepper....a taste
A dash Worchestershire for a base note

Keeps a week or two.  Give it to the kids with their chicken nuggets.

I like to use creamy dressings on crisp, crunchy lettuces like romaine or iceberg.  For the main dish, I roasted up a turkey breast, served it with a stuffing I threw together from bread out of the freezer, and leftover cheesy cauliflower.  Now I also have fresh roasted turkey for sandwiches :)