Posted by: Rachel | July 28, 2013

in my sister’s kitchen

It is always interesting cooking in someone else’s kitchen. I must say, however, that I know my sister’s kitchen almost as well as I know my own. Sometimes she moves things between my visits, but since we tend to think alike about this sort of thing I can usually find my way around.

We cook well together. That may sound simple, but cooking with someone even in a large kitchen can be tricky. It is a bit like ballet, or can be. But we synch.

This time we made a chicken dish. Plenty to eat and share, and lots for the freezer as well (if it sticks around that long – it was awfully good). My sister found the recipe at (on?) Epicurious and we only changed it a smidge.

It is a great recipe. I wasn’t sure at first because the marinade didn’t smell or taste like much of anything to me and I thought figs and olives was overkill. My sister, however, was sure it would be good and she was right. Mmmmmmmmmm!!

It is great also because you do 95% of the “work” the day before, then pretty much just pull it out and bake it. Wowza… easy-peasy!

Here’s the original recipe she found followed by what we actually did:

Chicken with Figs/Silver Palate

ingredients on counter

start your engines…

2 chickens (2 and a half to 3 pounds each), cut into 8 pieces each
6 large cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup best-quality olive oil
4 teaspoons green peppercorns (packed in water), drained
1 cup imported black olives
1 and a half cups dried apricots
1 cup dried small figs or large fig pieces
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup Madeira
1 cup large pecan pieces
Grated zest of 2 lemons

One day before serving, combine the chicken, garlic, thyme, cumin, ginger, salt, vinegar, oil, peppercorns, olives, apricots, and figs in a large bowl. Marinate covered in the refrigerator overnight.

ready for fridge

nearly fridgeable

Remove the bowl from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a large shallow baking pan. Spoon the marinade mixture evenly over the chicken. Sprinkle with the sugar and pour the Madeira between the pieces.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake, basting frequently with the pan juices, until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a sharp skewer, 40 to 50 minutes.

right before baking

sugary goodness – mmm!

Using a fork and slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, olives, and dried fruit to a large serving platter. Drizzle with a few large spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle with the pecans. Sprinkle the lemon zest over all. Pass the remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.

(6 portions)

We are not green peppercorn fans. We left them out. We also bought about 7 lbs of chicken pieces (shhhhh) rather than dismembering whole birds. We used fresh thyme and added Madeira to the marinade and to the chicken right before baking, and cut back on the olive oil to 1/4 cup. We made this late afternoon, fridged it overnight, then turned the chicken in the marinade in the morning and refridged it.

You can, of course, adjust this up or down in quantity, but I recommend making lots – why not? Oh and I think you could do this in a slow cooker as well; it would just be a bit more stewish. Pretty straightforward!

I didn’t actually taste the ginger or cumin in the final dish but I think they would have been missed had we not added them. And, the basting really is necessary to ensure a sort of glaze (it isn’t that sweet but it sure is good – trust me) on the chicken pieces. Mmmmm…

Enjoy this with a nice green salad and a table full of family any time of year. Mmmmmmmmmm!!



  1. Impressive! Looks really delicious.

    • Delicious and easy – good combo! Mmmmm….

  2. Oh! This is fun, Rachel – I know exactly where you are! Seems like a wonderful variation of the original Silver Palate Chicken Marbella (and it looks like you remove the skin) – or, in my mostly vegetarian family, we make Tofu Marbella. I would love the variation from white wine to madeira wine and, of course, yummy figs! Did you serve with something, like not-very-healthy orzo, to soak up the juices? I’ll try this with tofu and let you know how it is!

    • Served it with bulgur from the one of the Watertown markets. Mmmmm… And, I apparently missed the entire Marbella craze although my sister explained it to me 😉 Yummy in any event – let us know if you do try it with tofu, OK?

  3. I think you can tell a lot about how a kitchen is organized. Mine dives my sister and mom crazy???????? It works for me. :). The changes you made in the recipe are genius, Too good.

  4. Yes, this is most certainly a take on Chicken Marbella from the Silver Palate Cookbook. We make it all the time at Putnam Camp. The marinade is usually: prunes, olives, capers, oil, vinegar, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper. Then the next day you pour brown sugar and white wine over the top and pop it in the oven. We usually get 5 or 6 cut up chickens from the butcher to feed 30ish people. I trim the fat but don’t take all the skin off. I think it’s a weird combination of things to put together, but everyone seems to love it.

  5. This sounds like a terrific recipe.

  6. I think buying chicken pieces is a great idea. That way you get only the bits you like to eat 🙂

    • Exactly, and less mess too (but less for the soup pot…)

  7. While I like being in the kitchen with my husband, I find it takes much longer to prepare a dish. We have to discover that groove, I guess. I also do not like to cook in other people’s kitchen as I like to know exactly where everything is. I never liked butchering a whole chicken either so I like how you roll ;).

    • Thanks and thanks for stopping by! I think cooking with someone is a bit of a dance… just decide who is going to lead! 😉

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