An Updated Classic: Chicken Marbella
Growing up in the 90s brought with it a handful of taste memories common to all members of Gen X: Crystal Pepsi, Fruit By The Foot, and Push Pops, to name a few. And if you were lucky enough to belong to a household where home cooking and good eating were important, your recollections of your childhood diet no doubt extend beyond these after school snacks to dishes such as carrot cake, basil pesto, and balsamic vinaigrette, now-classic preparations that first came to many passionate home cooks through the iconic, three-decades-old tome The Silver Palate Cookbook.
These now-classic preparations came to passionate home cooks through the iconic, three-decades-old tome The Silver Palate Cookbook. Published in 1982, the red-and-white jacketed book presented the recipes and techniques used at New York City’s Upper West Side gourmet food store The Silver Palate. The 156-square-foot shop was established in 1977 by Sheila Lukins, a home caterer and graduate of the Cordon Bleu who went on to become—along with peers such as The Moosewood Cookbook author Mollie Katzen—one of New American cooking’s first pioneers.
Ms. Lukins’ company, Other Woman Catering, was one of the first to introduce New Yorkers to once-foreign flavorings such as balsamic vinegar, dried spices like cumin and coriander, and fresh herbs such as tarragon and thyme. When Lukins opened The Silver Palate with partner Julee Rosso, these ingredients showed up in dishes such as Greek spinach pies, curried butternut squash soup, and—of course—chicken “Marbella.” A boldly flavorful yet totally approachable Mediterranean-style dish of bone-in chicken braised with garlic, oregano, olives and dried fruit, the recipe was included in the 1982 cookbook and quickly became a “dinner-party classic for a generation of modern cooks,” according to The New York Times’ Julia Moskin. The centerpiece of countless in-the-know dinner parties throughout the 80s and 90s, chicken Marbella has endured, its comforting aroma of steamy white wine and fragrant bay leaves still well known to today’s generation of home cooks.
For Elana Karp, director of culinary here at Plated, memories of the dish—and of the classic cookbook that introduced it to thousands of Americans—have remained fresh. That’s why she and her team decided to give chicken Marbella a 21st-century facelift and ship it out to Plated customers this fall.
“My mom has a worn-out copy of The Silver Palate Cookbook: it’s so worn-out, in fact, that it’s completely split down the middle, but she’s never thought to get another copy,” Elana told us. “When the team decided to add this dish to the menu, it was nostalgic for all of us—I think we can all say the same thing about our moms’ copies of The Silver Palate!”
While the original chicken Marbella recipe couldn’t be easier, it does require some advance planning—the chicken, garlic, herbs, and spices meld in an overnight marinade before meeting the oven for an hour-long braise. Plated’s version has been “both updated and simplified for customers,” Elana says. Plated’s Marbella Chicken with Olives and Capers ditches the long marinating time but maintains the strong flavors of parsley, bay leaves, and white wine. It’s also cooked at a higher temperature in order to get it on your table in under an hour. And in the place of generic green olives, we use meaty Castelvetranos, a “test kitchen and customer favorite,” according to Elana. Served over fluffy white rice with glasses of crisp white wine, it’s a dinner party favorite for a reason. And one that’s sure to endure for the next thirty years.
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