Chicken Marbella for Sheila

Thursday, September 3, 2009

marbella-1

Way back a hundred million years ago, when Mr. SGCC and I were first married, we received a copy of The Silver Palate Cookbook as a wedding gift.  It sat proudly on our orange crate bookcase alongside The Joy of Cooking and The Betty Crocker Cookbook, also wedding gifts. That bookcase made quite a statement paired with our dining room set consisting of a card table and four metal folding chairs.  (Did I mention that we were poor as dirt back then?)  Anyway, whenever I needed some culinary inspiration, I’d reach for Sheila and Julee’s wildly popular and creative tome of elegant entertaining to get me started.

The Silver Palate is one of the top 10 best-selling cookbooks of all time. Sheila Lukins and  her business partner, Julee Rosso, wrote it in 1979, two years after they opened one of the nation’s first gourmet takeout shops of the same name in New York City.    The book helped demystify and popularize gourmet cooking  for millions of home cooks upon its publication in 1982 and continues to do so today.  It is considered THE American cookbook of the Eighties.  I didn’t know anyone who didn’t have a dog-eared, sauce-splattered copy of it in their kitchen arsenal.   The recipes were innovative and accessible at the same time, using unique combinations of ingredients and advocating rich and bold flavors with a Mediterranean flair. 

Silver-Palate-collage

Lukins and Rosso split up years ago after a lot of acrimony, and their store was shuttered in 1993.  Both went on to author other cookbooks and start new ventures.  Lukins was the the food editor and columnist for Parade Magazine for over twenty years, a position previously held by Julia Child.

As many of you may already know, Sheila Lukins passed away from brain cancer several days ago at the age of sixty-six.  She was a trailblazer in the culinary world, redefining the parameters of gourmet cooking for a whole generation.  She will be sorely missed.

One of The Silver Palate’s most famous recipes – Chicken Marbella – was also the first main course to be offered for sale at the shop.  It was also the first dish I ever served to company.  Over the years it has become one of the most requested dishes in my repertoire.  I thought it only fitting that I make it in Sheila Lukin’s honor and share it with you here.    I’m sure I won’t be the only food blogger serving Chicken Marbella this week but, that’s okay.   I’m sure Sheila would be pleased.

marbella-2

Enjoy!

47 responses to Chicken Marbella for Sheila

  1. On September 03, 2009 at 8:15am, Jamie said...

    Fabulous cookbook and one fabulous Chicken Marabella. Wonderful.

  2. On September 03, 2009 at 8:55am, kellypea said...

    What a perfect write up — I’ll always remember the recipes from this book as it was the foundation of my first multi-course dinner party. Fun and special memories.

  3. On September 03, 2009 at 9:27am, Rosa said...

    A beautiful dish!

    I love this book and I’m saddened by her passing away…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  4. On September 03, 2009 at 9:31am, Kalyn said...

    Lovely post and this looks delicious. I am always sad when someone so talented dies at such a young age. I have most, if not all her cookbooks too.

  5. On September 03, 2009 at 9:32am, Lori @ RecipeGirl said...

    I’m always sad to see someone go before their time. Sounds like she was quite the talented woman.

    I have this cookbook sitting on my cookbook shelf. I actually only picked it up a couple of months ago and have not yet ever cooked from it!! Someone should have gotten it for me when I got married, I guess. I’ll have to give it a flip through to honor her passing & give a recipe or two a try. The chicken looks fabulous.

    • On September 03, 2009 at 12:24pm, Susan said...

      You definitely must spend some time with this book, Lori. I guarantee that you’ll be inspired! :)

  6. On September 03, 2009 at 9:41am, Matthew said...

    Mmmmmmmmm. Great post, and beautiful pics. Thanks!

  7. On September 03, 2009 at 9:42am, Lisa said...

    Wonderful post! Of course, I remember Chicken Marbella, and your version here looks spectacular. You’re so right that these were the “it” cookbooks in the 80s. I got The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook as a wedding present, and then later picked up The New Basics. I loved those books and the recipes and tips in them. Thank you for this tribute to Sheila Lukins.

    • On September 03, 2009 at 9:58am, Susan said...

      I love New Basics too! My absolute fave carrot cake recipe is in there.

  8. On September 03, 2009 at 9:48am, City Girl said...

    I have a Silver Palate cookbook at home – I need to pull it back out. I discovered it through the mother of a friend of mine who also had received it as a wedding present.

  9. On September 03, 2009 at 9:50am, Donna said...

    Good Morning Susan… It is always great finding a wonderful new chicken recipe. This one sounds so yummy and I am going to try it… I have everything I need except the prunes. Thanks

    (((HUGS)))
    Donna

    • On September 03, 2009 at 9:56am, Susan said...

      Oh, do try to get the prunes. They are totally transformed in this dish! :o

  10. On September 03, 2009 at 9:57am, kelleyn said...

    Thanks for reminding me of this recipe. I own her cookbook and every recipe is delish!

  11. On September 03, 2009 at 10:50am, Jennifer said...

    I didn’t know about Sheila’s passing until Tuesday of this week, when I heard Lynne Rosetto-Kasper of The Splendid Table speak so openly on NPR about Sheila’s contributions. What a wonderful post, and what a beautiful dish!!!!

  12. On September 03, 2009 at 11:33am, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    Very sad. I don’t have the original SP cookbook, but I do have the “Good Times” cookbook where the recipes are themed around occasions or seasons (like graduations, Kentucky Derby, a night at the opera). I love their chocolate hazelnut cake recipe (over a pound of chocolate and 3 sticks of butter) and it was that cookbook tht introduced me to pasta amatriciana.

    Very sad to hear of her passing so young.

  13. On September 03, 2009 at 12:28pm, Karen@Mignardise said...

    Thanks for reminding me of an old favorite and an old never-fail standby. I love Chicken Marbella and it’s perfect for entertaining a crowd.
    I’ve had my copy of Silver Palate for about 25 years – can’t live without it!

  14. On September 03, 2009 at 12:44pm, patsyk said...

    What a lovely tribute to a favorite cookbook author! I can see why that dish has been requested frequently… it looks amazing and must taste even better with the combination of flavors it has.

  15. On September 03, 2009 at 1:51pm, Debbie said...

    Very nice post and some delicious looking chicken…..

  16. On September 03, 2009 at 2:48pm, Paula said...

    What a wonderful post about an amazing lady. I’ve loved her cookbooks for many years. She will be missed.
    Your chicken looks divine. The perfect tribute!

  17. On September 03, 2009 at 7:12pm, Anne said...

    I have this marinading in the fridge for dinner tomorrow night. My copy of SP and NB are both falling apart from use!

  18. On September 03, 2009 at 7:54pm, Bellini Valli said...

    I still have both of my Silver Palate cookbooks. I think their innovativeness caused the rise of similiar gourmet shops all across the country copying their style. It is sad to hear of Sheila’s passing but she had me excited about couer la creme with poppyseed dressing and Chicken Marbella.

  19. On September 03, 2009 at 8:17pm, maureen dudgeon said...

    A wonderful recipe from a wonderful book. Chicken marabella is reproducible for a vegetarian (me) cooking for guests.

  20. On September 04, 2009 at 12:06am, Melynda said...

    I just recently picked up a copy of this great book. It was on a shelf in a little used store. The cover is splattered, and one of the pages is completely loose, but still present in the correct spot. And that is why I bought it, it had been used. A used cookbook, used being the act of cooking from it, is the best one to find. It brings with it a history, and possibly a reputation to uphold. I then made Chicken Marbella for the next Sunday Cafe, I loved it. She will be missed, she was brave and bright and bold.

  21. On September 04, 2009 at 2:25am, The Leftoverist said...

    Where to begin…

    a) Love this cookbook. My mom had it growing up, and it was the first thing I bought when I moved away from home
    b) I didn’t know Sheila Lukins had died. What a great way to remember her
    c) I LOVE this recipe, and was just thinking about it the other day.
    d) y oth is totally watering at your photo

  22. On September 04, 2009 at 7:36am, Jen of a2eatwrite said...

    Lovely post, Susan. My wedding gift was “The New Basics Cookbook”, and I cooked through a lot of it my first year of marriage just as Julie Powell did her Julia thing, although this was long before blogging and almost before internet! I feel like Sheila and Julee were my cooking teachers, which had never been my mom’s thing. In fact, we lived a few blocks from the Silver Palate and I enjoyed many a take-out dinner or side from their little hole-in-the-wall shop before it became “the” Silver Palate, although it was pretty much instantly popular, because I believe they were the only folks doing that kind of shop in those days. The desserts were TO DIE for.

  23. On September 04, 2009 at 9:58am, Dawn said...

    The dish looks and sounds incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever used prunes with chicken, so I’m excited to give it a try. I may have to see if I can find a copy of that cook book sometime in the near future as well. Thanks for sharing!

  24. On September 04, 2009 at 12:33pm, ChezUs said...

    Susan, this is a fantastic dish! A friend of mine makes it and I love it every time I have it at her house. And every time I think to myself, I really need to make this, but that is one book I don’t own. Thank you for posting the recipe, now I can remake it as well!!

  25. On September 04, 2009 at 8:55pm, Susan said...

    I hadn’t heard about the passing of Sheila Lukins. That’s very unfortunate. I too served this dish as a young woman right out of college looking for some sophisticated recipes for my repitore. This one was and still is a hit whenever I make it. Thanks so much for the reminder. I need to dust off my Silver Palate cookbook and try some of my favorites again.

  26. On September 04, 2009 at 10:13pm, Ciaochowlinda said...

    A nice tribute to Lukins. I’ve got both of those cookbooks and have made chicken marbella countless times. Your photos are stunning and so appetizing.

  27. On September 05, 2009 at 11:36am, Judy said...

    The first time I made Chicken Marbella was for a friend’s birthday party, for 40 people. It was at her request and it was a hit. The next time I made it, for my family, I used boneless chicken thighs. That version was also delicious, so that’s how I make it now. I’m thinking I should revisit the book and see what other yummy delights are lurking there.

  28. On September 06, 2009 at 1:16pm, Lynn B said...

    The SPCookbook was one of my first (after Joy, of course). I was living in CA in the early 80s. This book was so mind-expanding and FRESH. I loved it, used it ALL THE TIME and still use it. Haven’t done this one in a long time, but we’re having relatives visiting in a couple weeks, and THIS is on the menu. YUM. Thanks for the reminder!

  29. On September 06, 2009 at 2:29pm, CookiePie said...

    What a lovely tribute. I was so sad to hear of her passing — I went to the book party for the 25th anniversary of The Silver Palate Cookbook a couple of years ago and was awed to meet her. She was so friendly and loved hearing about everyone’s experiences with the book. My mom has been making chicken marbella forever — it’s one of our favorites! I love that it was the first dish you made for company :)

  30. On September 07, 2009 at 12:16am, Sarah said...

    I love Chicken Marbella. It is such an interesting and tasty dish. It’s so easy that I have made it in quantity for 300 people for a fancy dinner. I just strained out the “weird” things like the olives and prunes after baking. I love the olives and prunes but was worried they might have deterred some people from trying this yummy dish if I hadn’t strained them out. The recipe from the Silver Palate Cookbook is the best I have had!

  31. On September 08, 2009 at 7:23pm, Mary Coleman said...

    I was a partner in a catering business for 17 years and we made this all the time for parties. People always asked for the recipe, which was happily given.
    Thanks for posting it. People should revisit these cookbooks. They are the best!

  32. On September 08, 2009 at 7:29pm, Eliana said...

    I’ve got 3 words for this chicken – A-MA-ZING!!!

  33. On September 11, 2009 at 1:11pm, Hélène said...

    It’s so sad to see someone go that is that young. I have one of her cookbooks and never cooked from it. Now after seeing this post I will. This recipe looks like it would be a winner in my house. I am going to make that chicken. Thanks so much. Have a great week-end!

    • On September 12, 2009 at 11:21am, Susan said...

      I was sad to hear this too. This chicken is a real crowd pleaser as are many of her recipes! You must try a few. :)

  34. On September 13, 2009 at 9:22pm, The Food Hunter said...

    What sad news. I’ve only recently been turned on to this cookbook. I’ve eyed this very recipe many times. It looks delicious.

  35. On September 14, 2009 at 12:13pm, wendy said...

    what would you serve with it for Rosh hashanah dinner?

  36. On November 07, 2009 at 12:21am, Melinda said...

    I first made Chicken Marbella for my friend Celeste’s 40th birthday dinner party. She is now over 60 and I’ve likely prepared this dish 60 times. EVERYONE loves it – children, adults, foodies, everyone. I usually make it with boneless skinless breasts. And here’s a tip. I usually make about 4 pans of it. Marinate it overnight and then cook whatever we’re gonna eat that evening and bag the rest in freezer bags – throw in the brown sugar and wine and freeze it UNCOOKED. I did this the first time because I’m not much of a drinker and didn’t want to waste so much wine. It works beautifully. It’s the perfect dish to take to people – sick people, busy people, at a death, a picnic, a pot luck, etc. etc. It travels well. I seldom make the same dish again and again – there are so many great recipes, I keep going for new ones. With the exception of this – which I’ve made again and again.
    Thank you Sheila… You were a gift to the foodies of the world!

    • On November 07, 2009 at 11:05am, Susan said...

      Thanks for the great tip, Melinda! Freezing the marinated chicken ahead of time is a brilliant idea! :)

    • On January 15, 2010 at 1:37pm, Karen said...

      I made this dish for the first time last night. We loved it. Melinda, that’s a great idea. do you thaw before cooking? or just cook longer?

  37. On November 13, 2009 at 7:25pm, Kate said...

    It looks delicious, and I am trying it! It’s marinating right now, to be served tomorrow. What do you serve with it? Suggestions, anyone?

    • On January 26, 2012 at 3:33pm, Heather Steger said...

      This is my sister-in-law’s favorite for Christmas dinner….I made this for the first time last night and served it with rice. I saw that couscous was a nice pairing…after eating it, thought it might be nice with polenta as well. With the marvelous group of flavors, something bland works best. I will be serving leftovers tonight and will serve green bean almondine for the vegetable.

      Any more ideas out there?

      Heather

  38. On April 04, 2012 at 2:45pm, Sean said...

    I’ve heard somewhere that Rachel Ray (sort of) ripped this recipe off with her Chicken for Almodovar, which I like very much. This actually looks easier than Rachel’s version (which uses raisins instead of prunes, pimientos instead of capers and toasted slivered almonds as a garnish). Here, however, there’s no braising and that’s always a time-saving plus. Will try Chicken Marbella and hopefully it will not only be delicious, but will win friends and influence people (as reviewers often seem to claim ;-)

  39. On April 24, 2012 at 3:27pm, Jeff Van Pelt said...

    My wife makes this recipe and I love it. The only thing she does different is adds roasted pine nuts. She buys the pine nuts at the store, roasts them in the oven and throws them in with the sauce before baking. I LOVE it…

  40. On June 02, 2013 at 1:12pm, Paula @ Paula's Plate said...

    I am hoping to make this tonight with boneless chicken breasts; how much would you recommend to equal 4 21/2 chickens? Thanks so much!

4 pings to Chicken Marbella for Sheila

  1. On September 03, 2009 at 9:47am, Twitted by champaigntaste pinged...

    [...] This post was Twitted by champaigntaste [...]

  2. On September 04, 2009 at 9:09am, Chicken Marbella « Foodshots pinged...

    [...] Way back a hundred million years ago, when Mr. SGCC and I were first married, we received a copy of The Silver Palate Cookbook as a wedding gift. It sat proudly on our orange crate bookcase alongside The Joy of Cooking and The Betty Crocker Cookbook, also wedding gifts. That bookcase made quite a statement paired with our dining room set consisting of a card table and four metal folding chairs. (Did I mention that we were poor as dirt back then?) Anyway, whenever I needed some culinary inspiration, I’d reach for Sheila and Julee’s wildly popular and creative tome of elegant entertaining to get me started … [read more] [...]

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    [...] Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy – Chicken Marbella [...]

  4. On January 17, 2010 at 2:02pm, Chicken Havana « got no milk pinged...

    [...] reminded me very much of Chicken Marabella from The Silver Palate fame. Here, though, currants instead of prunes, and a lot less garlic. Same [...]

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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