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Chicken Marbella

Aside from the heady perfume of horse sweat and leather, the thrill of the chase, and the camaraderie of devil-may-care equestrians, what I love about fox hunting is the traditional hunt breakfast that follows. Each Saturday, a different member of the Fairfield County Hounds hunt club hosts. I was wary when I heard that last Saturday's meal was to be the purview of David Katz, who happens to be a good guy and superb horseman, but also is a relentless advocate of nutritionally correct eating (http://www.davidkatzmd.com/). My fears of a skeletal meal were allayed when caterer Bonni Manning (http://bonnimanning.com/) came up with a Katz-modified version of The Silver Palate's Chicken Marbella. Bonni used only skinless white-meat chicken and scant oil, and yet the bird was moist and tender, well abetted by apricots and prunes stewed to intoxicating intensity. Quinoa salad and roasted winter vegetables, plus baked apples for dessert, (not to mention Catherine Katz's glorious hummus to start) proved that even a low-fat meal can be mighty tasty! Thanks to Samantha Highfield, David's 11-year-old niece, for the yummy photo!

What follows is a more traditional recipe for chicken Marbella, the origins of which are Spanish:

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon softened butter
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1-3 tablespoons hot sauce to taste (Tabasco, Frank's, Pete's)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1/2 cup olive oil
6 chicken breast halves, skin on and bone in, washed and dried
6 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in, washed and dried
18 pitted prunes
18 pitted apricots
1/3 cup pitted green olives
1/3 cup capers
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
1/4 – 1/2 cup chicken broth

Directions:

  1. Mix together the lemon, butter, garlic, hot sauce, salt, rosemary, and olive oil. Rub this mixture over the chicken parts and set the parts, the prunes, apricots, olives, and capers, along with all the remaining mixture, in a wide pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight, turning once or twice.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Arrange the chicken pieces, prunes, etc., in a single layer in one or two shallow baking pans, spooning all the marinade over everything. Sprinkle the pans with brown sugar and pour white wine and 1/4 cup of chicken broth into the pan(s).
  4. Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour, adding more chicken broth to keep the pans good and moist. When done, the thickest pieces of chicken will ooze clear juice (not pink) when poked with a knife or fork.
  5. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken, fruits, olives, and capers to a serving dish. Reserve cooking liquid to serve as gravy. Sprinkle parsley or cilantro over the chicken and serve.
Recipe photo of Chicken Marbella

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