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Zuni Chicken or Chicken Marbela?

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I have never roasted a chicken before and want to try either one of these recipes for some guests I am entertaining this week. Am I nuts? Every thing I have heard from you all is the recipes are pretty fool proof. Should I try it, if so which one? Or stick to something I have made before?

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  1. I didn't like chicken marbella. I like the ingredients, but didn't like what happened to them after braising for so long. The sauce is too sweet for my taste. But it is ridiculously easy and hands-off.

    The Zuni chicken is awesome, but be sure to thoroughly familiarize yourself with every step before you commit to it. If you're comfortable in the kitchen, I think it will be fine. There's a bit more flipping and turning than with other roast chickens. Also, she writes for small chickens, so you may need to buy a couple. Be sure to try the salad, too; it's so good.

    2 Replies
    1. re: renz

      I'm glad you said that you found the chicken marbella too sweet. All I've read was raves on this board about it. But when I looked at the ingredients it looked way to sweet for my taste.

      But I'll still try making it one day for curiosity sake -- probably a very small portion as olives and capers are not exactly one of my favorite things in the world.

      1. re: renz

        I Don't like it either cause it's too sweet, but also because the chicken has often been very dry when I've had it at dinner parties.

        I suggest Chicken Bouillabaisse. Pretty simple and also from Zuni. It's elegant and delicious, with the toasts and aioli served with it. Here's a link. But if it doesn't work you can search for Zuni Chicken Bouillabaisse.

        http://whatdidyoueat.typepad.com/what...

      2. I love the zuni chicken, but you may want to try it "privately" first; not because of the taste (which is amazing, and particularly good with the bread salad) but because, depending on your oven, you may set off every smoke detector in your house. I know I do, and I always have to clean the oven the next day. So I do it for family, but I don't think I'd do it for guests. Others have said that draining the fat at each step can help with this problem, but that is also a rather messy operation that you may not want to be doing with guests around.

        1 Reply
        1. re: DGresh

          I made the Marbella last night. We all liked it except for my dad who said there was a flavor in there he was not really liking-I think it was the oregeno. It was so easy. I used pieces instead of quartered chickens. The chicken was moist and flavorful.

        2. I've yet to hear anyone dislike the taste of the Zuni chicken but chicken marbella is a little more iffy with the capers, olives and prunes. I haven't had a problem w/ the smoke and fat that others have described with the Zuni chicken (knock wood) and haven't had to pour out fat in the middle. I do throw in a handful of garlic cloves for about 20-30 minutes into the pan and get nice roasted garlic. The hardest part with the Zuni chicken I've found is getting it dry enough. Over the course of the couple of days it's in the dry marinade, I'll take out the chicken, pat it dry, and reseason a little. If it isn't dry enough, the skin can stick and rips when you turn it. I agree w/ DGresh about trying it beforehand to see how your oven handles it.

          1. Thanks all for your thoughts. I think everyone is right about the Zuni chicken "steps" and possible smoke issues. As for Marbella I was a bit concerned with the taste of the ingredients going over my guests. So does anyone have another chicken recipe they might suggest?

            2 Replies
            1. re: buzz t

              Try Ina Garten's Indonesian Ginger Chicken: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

              Note that you need to start it the night before, so the chicken has time to marinate.

              1. re: Megiac

                I like Chicken Marbella, but I also love Indonesian Ginger Chicken. (FWIW, Chicken Marbella needs to be marinated the night before too.)

                I also would suggest Alton Brown's 40 Cloves and a Chicken.

                http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

            2. Chicken Marbella isn't really a roasted chicken. It's a braise. I've been reluctant to try it because try as I might, I just really dislike olives.

              The Zuni Chicken is wonderful, but you will probably need to roast two for company. I've had success doing two side by side in a turkey roasting pan.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Megiac

                For what it's worth, I used black olives the one time I made the chicken marbella instead of green which I believe the recipe called for. I thought the black ones would mesh with the flavors better than the green. (But if you don't like olives at all you wouldn't like em.)

                I also used boneless chicken pieces. May have cooked it a little less to avoid overcooking with that cut of chicken. Someone said recently that the brown sugar makes a good crust on the chicken skin pieces. So maybe we missed out on that.

                It is sweet. Any sweeter would be too much. But I didn't think it was too much.

                I'm planning on making it for a dinner next weekend.

                1. re: Megiac

                  If you dislike olives, just leave them out; the chicken will still taste good. The idea of using dried apricots instead of prunes is good; next time, I might use half of each. I definitely like the capers. Some think this turns out sweet so you could leave out the brown sugar or just use less.

                  1. re: walker

                    Walker - I'm so glad you said that! I made Chicken Marbella recently for the first time and enjoyed it. However, my husband who does not like olives did not like the chicken and said that the taste of olives was too strong in the dish. I am keen to try it again with no olives (well perhaps just a few......)

                    Has anyone else made it without olives? What did you use instead?

                2. I made chicken marbella for 12 for seder this week for the first. I found it very moist, juicy, flavorful and dead easy. I didn't think it too sweet at all but I suppose you could omit the brown sugar if that is a concern. That said, if you want roasted chicken, why not just roast a chicken?

                  1. I didn't think Chicken Marbella was too sweet - mainly because the olives, red wine vinegar, and capers cut that a bit, especially if you use good-quality capers and Spanish green olives. It is fool-proof, and pretty easy with the do-ahead marinade. I made it for the first time when we did Silver Palate as the Cookbook of the Month, but I guess it's been a classic recipe for years so even with all these different ingredients it sounds like it appeals to a lot of people. Out of the two, this is probably better for entertaining. The Zuni chicken is more complicated with more prep work (the recipe is almost four pages), and for larger groups you'd have to roast a few of the 2-3/4 to 3-1/2 pounds chickens the recipe calls for.

                    OTOH, while I think the Marbella was good, I LOVE the Zuni chicken. As others have said, the Marbella is braised, while the Zuni is roasted with a flavorful, crispy skin, which I prefer. It's a lot more work, and not easy to do for a large dinner party, but hands-down my favorite of the two and just fantastic with the bread salad. Don't skip the bread salad, it's one of the best parts of this dish.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Rubee

                      Can't comment on the Marbella. I've never made it. The Zuni chicken/bread salad is wonderful, and I guess others agree, as it's one of my most requested menus.

                      A couple of folks have suggested that you use two chickens to serve a few people. That is excellent advice. A larger chicken is not the best alternative. I've worked with bigger birds...closer to 4 lbs...and it does throw off the cooking time. I've pulled it off, but I'd rather not, especially when I'm feeding company. I've had best luck, both with the marinating time and the roasting time/method, when the chicken is right around 3 lbs. Rodgers notes that bigger birds require longer marinating time, and that's absolutely right. 24 hours is not enough for a 4 lb-er, as I learned the hard way.

                      Also, save your sanity by making the bread salad a couple of hours ahead of time, instead of following the sequence as the recipe is written. There's really no need to put that salad together while the chickens are roasting, especially if you're working on other sides, dessert, or just want to spend some time with your guests. Do all steps ahead except adding the chicken drippings and the final warming. It'll be fine.

                      The other great thing about this is that it makes a gorgeous presentation, nice for company. I perch one of birds, whole, on top of a big bowl of bread salad and carve it at the table. It looks so impressive that nobody cares that I can't carve for beans, and that I'm really just chunking off their chicken. Or that the one I did in the kitchen is chunked too.

                      Good luck with your dinner party.

                    2. Those of us who enjoy Marbella should google 'Aunt Sadie's chicken recipe'. It has many elements in common. Although it calls for black olives, I use Graber's mild green olives - I consider them the Chardonnay of olives (I won't touch black for anything) and worth hunting them down.