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Comfort food

January 16, 2010

There has been so much in the news this week about the earthquake in Haiti. It’s hard to know what to say in response to such a horrible suffering. It’s been a dark week and my response to this sadness has been mostly to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Food as comfort is something we’re all familiar with so I offer this post and recipe as my best shot at comfort. I wish I had more to offer.

That time in the kitchen has meant more of Orangette’s caramel corn, a lemon poppy seed cake that I may make again tonight, gratin dauphinois from the Joy of Cooking (thinly sliced potatoes baked in cream or milk, akin to scalloped potatoes), and chicken Marbella. It’s the chicken Marbella that I want to tell you about. It’s warming, homey, a nice balance of sweet and salty and sour, and easy to make. We almost always have the ingredients for this, or at least enough of them, and I think it’s hubby’s favorite way to eat chicken.

I’ve adapted the recipe from a faded photocopied page from the Silver Palatte cookbook, sent to me by my sister-in-law. She once sent an overnight package to us with a vacuumed sealed bag of the marinade, with instructions, and vacuumed sealed bread to accompany the chicken. All we had to do was add the chicken and bake. It was a very welcomed gift.

Lots of people seem to make a version of this recipe; this is mine.

Chicken Marbella (loosely adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook)
I have completely changed the seasonings in this recipe and omitted the cup of sugar it calls for sprinkling over the top just before baking. I think that the dried fruit offers plenty of sweetness.

8# of bone-in chicken, cut into parts
1 head of garlic, peeled and chopped
3T dried sage
pinch dried, ground rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes (we didn’t have quite enough, so I added a handful of raisins)
1/2 cup pitted olives
1/2 cup capers
6 bay leaves
1 cup white wine

In a large bowl, combine the chicken parts with garlic, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper, vinegar, oil, prunes, olives, capers and bay leaves. Marinate up to 24 hours, refrigerated. (Though I only let it sit for 20 minutes or so and it was just fine).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place chicken in a large baking dish – you may need to use two – keeping in a single layer. Distribute marinade between two pans and pour the wine over the chicken. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until the juice from the thighs run clear when poked with a knife.

Serve over rice.

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