Saturday, December 20, 2014

Chicken Marbella

On November 22, friends joined us for dinner. These friends have three children so our combined families require food for 8 people. I thought I'd try Sheila Lukins' famous recipe Chicken Marbella.

Essentially, it's chicken pieces braised in white wine, olive oil, herbs, garlic (as in a head of pureed garlic), prunes, capers, and olives. Very tasty but because the prunes and olives are whole people who don't like such things can just pick them out.

I went to Whole Foods for my chicken because it's nearby and I figured I could get a better product. Remember, please that this shopping excursion occurred on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. A high-traffic time for groceries, you'd think. Lots of people. Wanting food. Because that's what groceries do. (sell food).

But you'd have thought, based on the level of readiness at WF, that it was a Tuesday in February.

What was in the butcher's case? NOTHING. Photo below. Not that the case is empty. As in: empty.

There's more. When I asked for chicken pieces, I went round and round with the butcher about it. How much? He had no advice to offer. Thighs and breasts? No opinion. Finally, I just told him how many I wanted and he popped into the back area.

He emerged with two plastic-wrapped parcels (the kind that regular groceries put into the meat section) which he pulled open. They had been frozen. He then weighed out the pieces I wanted and wrapped them loosely in paper (loosely wrapping chicken is the best way because then the juices leak out onto other foods, flavoring them).

While I watched him do this, I read the orange sticker below:

So true. So, so true.

Then I went looking for the other items on my list. Each and every aisle was blocked. Every aisle.

Above, a dolley with boxes. Below,  stacked crates and a cart full of broken-down boxes.

Boxes. More Boxes. Just laying on the floor.

Was anyone unloading them? No. Was this because the staff were quite busy with customers? No. they were, mostly, standing around the checkouts and customer-service desk, chatting.

I was...not amused. But I had chicken! And prunes (more prunes than anyone would ever need but they sold only one size and at that point my mood had turned sorta sour so I didn't think I should go anywhere else).

I made the chicken. It was good. I followed the recipe almost exactly (bought the wrong olives at WF so I had to use a slightly different olive) and the one thing I'd say is that another 20 minutes in the oven wouldn't be amiss. Otherwise, delicious.

Me, checking the dish by giving it the evil squinty eye. If it fails to flinch you know it's done.


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