If it weren’t for all my goy friends asking me what I am doing for the Jewish New Year, I may have forgotten it (hence you are getting Thursday Cooks on Tuesday). Not to say I am not much of a Jew, that is really up for discussion. Sure, I can’t recite a prayer if my life depended on it, but, as we progressive folk know, there is more to being Jewish that knowing the Talmud (I hope). My goy friends would chime in to support me here when I say eating is an equally important practice in the life of a Jew. They can attest to the religiousness with which I stir my matzo ball soup or spike my dark chocolate Passover cake with extra rum. They have enjoyed my Jewish culinary moments and will continue reminding me of upcoming events in the hopes of falling in the arms of another good meal. For this, and their company, I am forever thankful. So, of course, it would make perfect sense that I was reminded of the Jewish New Year beginning sunset tomorrow with the obvious question of what was I cooking. This was coming from my Catholic-Irish friend eager for an invitation.When it comes to foods, Rosh Ha Shana (the Jewish New Year) is a no-brainer and a guilt-free one at that. Sweets reign…AND IT’S OKAY. Read again, if you must: it’s okay. You are SUPPOSED to eat sucrose. God wants you to. Atkins, pilates, and starvation be damned. I am having honey!The symbolism is obvious: sweets for a sweet year. The traditional snack begins with apples dipped in honey, a popular ending is honey cake. In between I like to serve Marbella Chicken: chicken basting in brown sugar, prunes and olives. It is delectable, easy, and you can double up the recipe for large crowds. If you are wondering why the picture I offer is looking so skimpy, it’s because I ate most of the dish before remembering to photograph it. It’s THAT good. I have been making this dish for over 15 years and it still casts a spell over me and whoever else indulges in it. So, go ahead, start now with a spoonful of honey (I did) and then dig into a dish that will catapult Jews and non-Jews alike into a year of deliciousness.
(adapted from The Silver Palate, Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins)
2 chickens, 2 1/2 lbs each, quartered
1/2 head garlic, minced
1/8 cup oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup Spanish green olives
1/2 cup capers with a bit of the juice
3 bay leaves
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/5 cup white wine
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
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 (preferably overnight, but can be a couple of hours).
Preheat oven to 350F.
Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it. Sprinkle ckicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around pieces.
Bake for 50 minutes - 1 hour, basting frquently with pan juices. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parsley.
Act like you've labored for hours in the hot kitchen when all your guests OOOH and AHHH you.
Serves 2 - 4