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Chicken Marbella Questions for dinner on Sunday 8/29...

Hi guys: Thanks for suggesting the chicken marabella; I will be making it this sunday for about 18 people( yup, I've got loads of friends). I've made quite a reputation with the roast chicken and pastitsio meals and I hope that the trend continues. So I need your help in continuing to make me feel like a culinary genius, even though, honestly, I have a passion for food but has never taken the next step of actually cooking. Now, I've totally jumped the shark!

Anyway, here's the recipe and my questions:



1) The whitewine. I am not able to use this. Can you please recommend an acceptable subsitute? One liquid or a combo? appke juice/water/stock/lemon juice/ prune juice/other? I am not able to use white wine or other alcohol.

2) Many of the epicurious reviewers suggestd that I increase the marinade by 50 - 100 percent. How would you do that?

3) Please recommend prep times. What can I do the day before?

4) I will be serving rice as the starch because that is what was provided. I would have preferred couscous because I've never ever cooked rice in my entire life(redundant much?). How would I cook it? Technique? How much for 18 people? Ratio of water to rice? Spices? Visible queues to look for as I cook the rice, etc?

5) I will be serving ftozen green beans(yuck!) or green salad? How would I jazz these up? Vinaigrette? If you think about it, the watermelon/feta salad from 8/22 will be a hard act to follow?

6) Dessert ideas, please.

7) Is there anything else that comes to mind that will be very helpful? Like, is that amount of chicken ok?

Thanks again, guys!

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  1. 1) I believe the wine is quite important for CM. At the very least, use white grape juice and omit the brown sugar.
    3) Marinate
    4) Follow package directions, cook in broth or broth/water combo if available
    5) Nothing wrong with frozen green beans. Make GB almondine.
    7) CM is best with bone-in thighs. I like to brown them slowly on the skin side only, rendering out as much fat as possible, before placing the pieces skin side up in the baking dish, so the skin in the finished dish is not flabby. I then make sure that the bits of prune, olive, caper, and onion are not atop the chicken, so they don't burn or keep the skin from crisping. I use a big enough pan that the chicken pieces do not touch.

    1. 1- Don't substitute anything. Not worth it- I wouldn't use grape juice as it's gonna add some strange flavors. Not the same as wine at all.

      2- Double the marinade ingredients

      3- you can marinade the chicken and that's about it

      4- follow the recipe on the package, depending on what type of rice you get, the amount of time will be different.

      5- why not recreate the watermelon/feta salad then, but I would go with both a salad and a veg. Frozen green beans aren't bad. Let them thaw and then saute them in butter with some shallots and garlic.

      7- Agree with greygarious in using thighs. However, depending on which cut of chicken you use, I'd go with either 1 breast per person or 2 pieces of dark meat per person.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jameshig

        Agree with all this advice. Except that I have had good results using boneless chicken breasts. Sometimes I've cut them into big strips. Easier for serving a crowd, I think.

        (I know you've certainly bought your chicken by now.)

        Let us know how it turns out!

      2. 1. Why are you not able to use wine?
        2. Just multiply.
        3. The prep times are given in the recipe.
        4. One cup of uncooked rice makes approx. two cups cooked. Basic instructions are on the package. Don't stir while cooking.
        5. Why frozen green beans?
        6. I'm not a dessert person
        7. The recipe says 10-12 servings. You're serving 18. Double recipe.

        1. I agree with greygarious that wine is very important to this dish. Wine is much more complex than grape juice and would not produce the same dish at all. I would suggest trying a nonalcoholic wine - go to a wine shop and talk to someone who knows a good one. Actually I am assuming it is the alcohol but maybe it is something else????

          1. How did it turn out? I am sorry I missed this, as I love the dish and make it all the time. I always double the marinade... it is so good and I serve the juice, with bread, in small ramekins along side the plate as it is good for dipping. I agree with the others the wine makes a big difference (I add it to the marinade, rather than pour it in later) but I hope it turned out well without it.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Tom P

              I can't cook with wine, and I have made this dish again and again with a substitution. It's just smashing, no wine needed! I use a natural white grape juice and add a touch of vinegar, and it's great, not strange at all, and I've served it at Thanksgiving dinner for guests who raved and raved. I can see why those who haven't tried it with a wine substitute would insist on the wine, but honestly it's just fantastic with a reasonable substitute. Many people can't cook with alcohol for a variety of reasons, and I frequently adapt recipes that call for wine. No harm done. Just don't get a sugary juice -- go with something all natural, and add the vinegar until it tastes wine-y, just a little spoon at a time. You can add a touch of stock/broth too if you want to round it out.

              I would like to know how it came out too. It is luscious cold the next day in sandwiches too.

              1. re: twilight goddess

                Sounds like a terrific idea for an adaptation, very cool!

            2. Is this dish okay without olives? I haved been hearing abt this dish for years but HATE olivey flavor.

              2 Replies
              1. re: drewb123

                I don't like olives (or capers) either, but I do think they are necessary in CM, because their sharpness and salt counterbalance the prunes. And though you can taste them, do not dominate the flavor of the dish. If you insist on not using olives I think you could try artichoke hearts but it will be better with the olives and capers. I follow the recipe except that I add onion and even though I have a sweet tooth, I use half the brown sugar called for. It's still a good flavor balance.

                1. re: drewb123

                  If you hate olives, certainly you should omit them. Do you like capers? I really like them, esp. in this dish. If someone does not like prunes, I think it's quite ok to use dried apricots. The artichoke heart suggestion is great -- I would use the marinated in oil ones and just drain well -- I think they have more flavor.

                  I'm sure this dish will still be delicious if you vary it to your liking.