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May 15, 2005 02:18 PM

Chicken Marbella w/out bones

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I have a wonderful Silver Palate recipe for Chicken Marbella that I'd like to make for a friend's party (~50 people). Since it's a buffet, I was thinking of making a boneless version of it.

I know bones add to the taste and richness of a dish, in general. Any ideas on how cooking boneless chicken meat might affect the taste? i.e. will a boneless version be considerably different?

Are there any ways to substitute the richness you get when cooking meat on the bone?

Thanks so much for your help!

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  1. This might be cumbersome, and I'm not sure how it would work, but how about de-boning the chicken, putting the bones in a cheesecloth bag, and cooking along with the dish? The bones in the bag can be easily removed once the dish is ready to be served.

    1. Yes, it will be different. I assume that by boneless you also mean skinless, which is another loss.

      Is this buffet going to be served with people eating with forks and knives at tables, or is it meant to be eaten standing?

      The original recipe calls for quartered chickens, which not only includes the main bones and skin, but all the other joints and extras (like the back and spine), which together add much more character than boneless, skinless flesh parts.

      But most people palates will not likely notice, given how twisted our palates have gotten in viewing boneless chicken as the norm these days! Sigh. I can see the Gary Larson Far Side cartoon of the boneless chicken farm. You cannot get something for nothing, as they say, and the convenience of boneless comes at a cost.

      If you go boneless, I'd use thighs only, not breast, since breast is more readily compromised by being cooked off the bone, as it has much less flavor and toothsome texture than the thigh.

      While including the bones separately will offer flavor and texture to the sauce, it will not help the meat in the same way as cooking on the bone, where the bone protects and infuses the meat simultaneously.

      1. Chicken Marbella is one of my absolute favorite chicken dishes in the world! It's my stand-by dish when I am having company because it is so easy to prepare. I toss the chicken in a storage bag with the marinade the night before and a few hours before company arrives I throw it all in a baking dish, cover it with some wine and brown sugar and it's done. So amazingly easy and so delicious! BUT, I have to say, you really must use bone-in chicken. It makes all the difference. I did try it with boneless breasts and thighs once and it just wasn't the same. One of the pleasures of this dish is how the chicken melts off the bone.

        Plus, it makes for a nice presentation when you use bone-in breasts. I use a big oval platter and I make a nice rice pilaf and arrange the chicken with all of the yummy olives and prunes (and sometimes apricots) and ladle the sauce over it all.

        1. Thanks for your input, everyone. Since this will be a stand-up buffet, I think I may have to resort to boneless, skinless thighs. Bummer. I still have a few days to reconsider, though. I'll be sure to report back after the party.