Tu B’Shvat brings to mind memories of a little brown paper bag of dried fruit that we got in elementary school from the PTA. The grand finale of the day, the celebrated new year for the trees, was the end. As we boarded our busses clutching our little paper sack, the principal waited at the doors of the school giving out the mysterious “boksar” the brown hard pods of the carob tree. I think even then my adventurous taste for food was evident, as my friends promptly threw them out or forgot them on the bus, I took mine home, opened it, chewed on it and did so for a couple of days! Carob pods are still mysterious to me, and no I am not sharing a recipe for “boksar!” However, the power of dried fruit in cooking is one I am still uncovering. What follows is the first recipe I ever made for fancy company as a young married woman. I got it at my bridal shower from my friend Alana Riss, but since have sourced it to the Silver Palate Cookbook. Everyone loves this, guests literally sop up the juices with their challah. The prunes transform, and the flavors wow your mouth. You will not regret making this dish.
4 chickens, 2 1/2 pounds each, quartered
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup Italian parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl combine chicken quarters, garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.
Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice.
With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.
To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in cooking juices before transferring to a serving platter. If chicken has been covered and refrigerated, allow it to return to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the reserved juices over chicken.
If you are lucky enough to travel to the warm Miami area this vacation, check out the Fruit and Spice Park. My family traveled there, and as we wandered by tram through the hundreds of varieties of mangoes, sampled juicy starfruit off the tree, and learned about and tasted rare tropical fruits and amazing herbs and veggies, we suddenly realized it was Tu B’Shvat! Even if it is not TuB’Shvat you will enjoy this garden of wonders!
Chavie Hagler and Rayzel Yaish are two Bergen County residents with a passion for delicious food! We are delighted to alternately bring you Over the Kosher Kitchen Sink. In the spirit of friends and family who enjoy hanging around and chatting over our kitchen sinks, we hope you will enjoy our tasty thoughts and will share your questions and kosher food ideas with us at kosherkitchensink_jewishlinkbc.com
By Rayzel Yaish