Chicken Marbella, Eighties Dinner Party Chic
Plus: Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, a Shrimp and Broccoli Stir-Fry, & a Cooked and Raw Dinner Salad.
Well if you’re anything like me right now, you’re reading every Tweet and every article coming out about the Will Smith incident at the Oscars (note: I’m writing this right after it happened… so probably we won’t be as obsessed when this arrives in your inbox?). I had friends over — we ordered pizza from Hail Mary — and we almost choked on our mozzarella when it happened.
Actually, we were mostly confused. The camera cut away and there was bleeping; it wasn’t until later, when I watched the full clip, that I realized how intense it really was. But you’re not here to read my hot-take on Will Smithgate. You’re hear to read about Chicken Marbella!
My friends Sudi (who lives across the street) and Jared (who doesn’t live across the street) were coming over for dinner on Saturday night and I think they were expecting pasta, and I think I was expecting to make pasta, but that’s all I ever make and I wanted to try something different. I watched Ina Garten make Chicken Marbella on her show recently; it comes from The Silver Palate Cookbook and Nora Ephron said about it, “When you went to a dinner party in New York in the 80s, Chicken Marbella was on the menu.”
[Here’s the link to the full recipe, free, on Ina’s site.]
Now that I’ve made it, I can see why it was so popular: 1. It’s super easy — you just marinate chicken with olive oil, red wine vinegar, lots of chopped garlic, oregano, olives, capers, bay leaves, and prunes, preferably overnight (I did it the same day), place into a baking dish (I had to use two because I had too much chicken), sprinkle with salt, pepper, and brown sugar, and then pour white wine around the edges. Somebody on Twitter suggested that I just use just chicken thighs and I liked that idea because that’s usually the best part anyway.
It bakes for 45 minutes or so in the oven (Ina says shoot for an internal temp of 145, I went for 165 because that’s normally the standard for dark meat and I don’t want salmonella?); I broiled it a bit at the end for color.
The raves were almost instantaneous: it’s one of those recipes where you’re not quite sure how these flavors will go together but once you taste them, the combination of sweet, salty, fruity, and briny makes perfect sense. I served it with a couscous salad, which I basically made by cooking two boxes of plain couscous according to package directions.
To zhoosh it up a little, I added lots of orange zest, good olive oil (Inaspeak!), Aleppo pepper, sliced scallions, and toasted almonds. It didn’t need to be overly flavorful because it was going to absorb all of the juices from the chicken, and it did it’s job very well. (Normally, I’d add some kind of dried fruit — raisins or chopped apricots — but because there were prunes in the chicken dish, I didn’t bother.)
For dessert, I had some very ripe bananas on my table so I made this banana cake with cream cheese frosting from Sally’s Baking Addiction (I feel like I’m enabling Sally and her addiction).
The cake was fabulous — buttermilk makes it light, and the frosting was just what you want from a cream cheese frosting: thick and tangy and sweet — but the best part was that I finally was able to use the Great Jones Baking Dish I got for Christmas. The yellow really worked with the banana theme. Plus, the recipe made so much, I served it both Saturday night and tonight for my Oscar viewing.
[Note my friend Jonathan eating the cake below.]
I was doing my healthy cooking last week, as I completed Week Two of Eight Weeks to Ultimate Fitness (just a random amount of time that I assigned myself to lose some weight). I made a shrimp and broccoli stir-fry, combining several recipes that I read online.
Essentially, I steamed broccoli in the microwave on high for two minutes (just broccoli + a splash of water in a covered bowl), peeled the shrimp, got a wok very hot, added a splash of grapeseed oil, added the shrimp to start them browning, added the broccoli (which I patted dry), and after they both took on a little color, I added a bunch of chopped scallions (white parts and light green), chopped ginger and garlic, and once that was fragrant, I added my liquid mixture of Tamari (like a thicker soy sauce), black vinegar, Sriracha, fish sauce, and a little bit of corn starch. I served it over rice with lots of chile crisp on top.
But the best healthy dinner that I made last week was this one from Bon Appetit: a Raw and Roasted Dinner Salad (←click here for the recipe.)
There’s so much to love about this dish, but the best trick is that you roast squash (or in my case, sweet potato) on a cookie sheet with chickpeas, everything slicked with olive oil, so that it all gets nice and crispy. Then you add that to chopped cabbage, pour on a tahini dressing, add toasted pecans, and chopped apples. It had so much going on that I ate it for dinner two nights in a row.
Not bad for a week of cooking.
In case you missed it: last week, I had the editor-in-chief of Cook’s Illustrated and frequent star of America’s Test Kitchen, Dan Souza, on my podcast on Wednesday. On Thursday he appeared on a bonus episode where he answered Ten Feisty Food Questions, a regular Thursday feature for paid subscribers. Here’s one of the highlights, captured on video, where I asked him: “What’s a dish you would happily never eat again?”
To hear the rest of the ten questions, click here.
Now for some FOOD LINKS:
Peanut Butter Chile Crisp Cookies. Trying to taste this in my head. Maybe worth a try? (Eater);
RIP Dom DeMarco. I was lucky enough to eat pizza at DiFara and watch him take the pizza out of the oven with his bare hands. A true legend. (NYT);
When Lisa Donovan tells you where to eat in Nashville, you pay attention (and be sure to subscribe to her newsletter… I did!) (From the Hip);
Ever wonder what it looks like inside a dishwasher while it’s going? Your prayers have been answered (Kottke);
Ex-Food Network Star Murdered People… and it’s not Rachael Ray? (Deadline);
Bill Addison has me sold on the Clark Street Diner (LA Times).
That’s all for this week folks!
If you missed last week’s paid subscriber’s only newsletter, you missed those previously-mentioned Ten Feisty Food Questions with Dan Souza, PLUS my essay Slow Down You’re Eating Too Fast (all about eating too fast, how I do it too, and why it’s probably bad). If you want to join the fun, here’s a discount code for 20% off FOREVER:
See you back here on Wednesday!
Until next time….
Ottolenghi’s version of Chicken Marbella from Simple is also amazing, should you be looking to try it again (not too different than the original but swaps out some of the ingredients for more typical Middle Eastern ones, like dates).
I can't wait to try that roasted and raw salad.