You can find great inspiration by re-visiting old recipes when you think your repertoire is getting stale. Make some recipes you haven’t made in a while, and also try some traditional ones from your ancestors.
Most of you already know that Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, is my all-time hero. Her recipes are just-right every time. Ina recommends that you be familiar with the recipe if you are making it for company and not just try something for the first time when you are having people over, but I think you can take any one of Ina’s recipes and absolutely cook it for the first time for a dinner party!
I had never made this recipe before, but when I saw Ina make it on her TV show recently, I knew I had to make it for an upcoming dinner party – and the guests are all asking for the recipe. Admittedly, most said they were not a big fan of prunes, but they loved them in this dish! Don’t leave out the prunes (ok, substitute dried apricots if you must)! Also, I used several different varieties of olives, including the green ones mentioned, but also Katamala and some black dried (oil cured) olives I had in the refrigerator. I liked combining more olives than the recipe called for — and ones of the different varieties.
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- 1/2 cup good red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups large pitted prunes, such as Sunsweet
- 1 cup large green olives, pitted, such as Cerignola (up to 2 cups of different olive varieties)
- 1/2 cup capers, including the juices (3 1/2 ounces)
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 heads of garlic, cloves separated, peeled, and minced
- 1/4 cup dried oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 (4-pound) chickens, backs removed and cut in 8 pieces
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
Combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, 2 tablespoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper in a large bowl (not the wine or brown sugar). Add the chicken to the marinade. (You can also place the chicken and marinade in a 2-gallon plastic storage bag and squeeze out the air to make sure the chicken is fully covered with the marinade.) Refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally to be sure the marinade is getting into all of the chicken pieces.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the chicken, skin side up, along with the marinade in one layer in a large (15-by-18-inch) roasting pan, sprinkle with the brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper, and pour the wine around (not over!) the chicken. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until the internal temperature of the chicken is 145 degrees F. Remove the pan from the oven, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Transfer the chicken, prunes, and olives to a serving platter, sprinkle with salt, and serve hot with the pan juices.