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Nov 14, 2010 06:01 AM

Do-ahead chicken for (about) 12 -- your favorite recipe

I'm looking for a chicken dish to serve with potato latkes for Hanukkah, and if it can be prepared early in the day and reheated at serving time, all the better. Although I've never made Chicken Marbella, that sounds like one good option. Also, there are a couple of good-sounding recipes in Stevens' "All About Braising" that look like they could work. But what I'd really appreciate is a first-hand recommendation, and I can't think of a better place to ask than right here. Thanks!

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  1. Hey Cindy: Does it need to be dairy, or not that traditional? If you like the sounds of this, I do a very easy braise involving chicken, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and wine with a lot of herbs. It can also be prepared with broth if you don't care to use alcohol. Let me know if you'd like to know more.

    11 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      Er...chicken can't be dairy.

      Nevertheless - Marbella might be the answer for you. The original recipe calls for 3 whole chickens, so it serves a LOT. It can be prepared the day ahead, refrigerated, and then baked before dinner with little or not additional messing about, which makes it ideal for entertaining. I like the dish but when I make it I always substitute dried apricots for the prunes and definitely cut back on the brown sugar because I prefer less sweet.

      Another good chicken dish that reheats very well is coq au vin made with chicken thighs. Make it the day before and reheat before serving - delicious.

      1. re: Nyleve

        The recipes for Chicken Marbella that I've seen online actually call for 4 whole chickens. I really like the idea of substituting apricots for prunes -- I'm not much a a prune fan, myself.

        Most of the coq au vin recipes I've seen include bacon, which I don't want to use this time around. There are soooooo many recipes for coq au vin; is there one recipe in particular that you like?

        1. re: CindyJ

          I recently made this coq au vin recipe - but with a few changes (which I will describe) and it was delicious:

          - First of all, I did use bacon, but this can be omitted entirely - use olive oil as the cooking fat and anyway, I didn't bother to blanch the bacon.
          - I browned the chicken in the olive oil, then the pearl onions, then the mushrooms. All were removed from the pot and set aside as they were browned.
          - Returned the chicken to the pot, used a full bottle of red wine instead of the 2 cups each of wine and broth, along with the aromatics.
          - Halfway through cooking I added the pearl onions, and then a little later, the mushrooms.
          - Finish cooking and, if necessary, remove chicken and other stuff and reduce sauce to thicken.

          I know I messed with the recipe quite a bit and, looking back on it, I needn't have bothered with a recipe at all but it gave me a framework to go outside of. Anyway - it was really really good and very easy. Also reheated well the next day.

          I think the main thing to remember about coq au vin is that it's basically a braise of chicken, and works best with thighs (which don't dry out). The onions and mushrooms are classic additions and the red wine makes a wonderful sauce - just don't drown the chicken in too much of it. Bacon, while delicious, can easily be omitted and I guarantee no one will care.

          1. re: Nyleve

            I always brown the veggies first, because the browned bits of chicken juices left in the pan will burn if the chicken is cooked first...

        2. re: Nyleve

          I know chicken's not milchig, Nyleve, but different families observe different cultural norms where their standard of observance is concerned. (Please notice, I didn't say "Kosher.") I probably phrased my question poorly, because what I meant was, "can it have a cream sauce/contain cream." Since she didn't specify, and I don't know her, I was assuming Kashrut wasn't the issue. But thanks for the heads-up!

          1. re: Nyleve

            I never like the skin in Chicken Marbella. Do you know of any tips to make it less slimy? I love the taste of the marbella ingredients but am always put off by the lack of any browning and slipperiness of the skin. Thoughts? Thanks.

            1. re: rjlebed

              you can use skinless chicken pieces - all that liquid & frequent basting prevents them from drying out. you *will* sacrifice a bit of flavor & fat if you go that route, but you won't have the texture problem.

              the other option if you're willing to go through the extra step/effort is to follow the recipe as written, using pieces with the skin on, and before serving, toss the chicken pieces into a hot cast iron pan or put them on a sheet pan under the broiler for a few minutes just to crisp the skin a bit. then pop them back into the cooking dish with the sauce, & serve.

              1. re: rjlebed

                I'm thinking that, given the overnight marinating, maybe basting while it's cooking isn't necessary. Then, maybe a quick browning under the broiler, just before taking it out of the oven?

                1. re: rjlebed

                  I blot off the marinade on the skin side, then place skin side down in a medium-hot skillet that has been well preheated, not moving the pieces. Once they are properly seared, they will release easily. I use thighs - with drumsticks you'll need to rotate and brown again. I arrange them in the pan and pour the marinade over. There should be at least a half inch between pieces. Slide the solids in the marinade off the skin and onto the pan. This way, the skin is very well rendered and though not crisp, not slimy - and utterly delicious.

              2. re: mamachef

                Mamachef -- If, when you ask about "dairy," you're asking about cream-type sauce, my preference for this event would be non-dairy. Alcohol is not a problem. I'd love to see your recipe.

                1. re: CindyJ

                  Hey Cindy: one thing to remember is that you can always, always sub in Mocha Mix for a cream finish, as long as the recipe doesn't ask for too much. Clearly I'm not talking about KFP though I'm sure you know that. At any rate, this is my "go to" for make-aheads.
                  Tarragon Chicken with Wine, Artichokes and Mushrooms (to serve 12. Can be made two days in advance if left unsauced - just make sauce as indicated and refrigerate with chicken.)
                  preheat oven to 350.
                  12 boneless chicken breast halves w/ skin
                  1 lb. trimmed mushrooms (chanterelles, cremini, bellas..)
                  2 boxes frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (or equiv. fresh trimmed baby artichokes, steamed- and in a pinch, I've rinsed the hell out of 4 jars marinated, dried them, and it was great!!)
                  kosher salt, fresh pepper to taste
                  1/2 c. flour; a bit more may be necessary
                  4 T. butter or margarine
                  2 T. finely chopped shallots
                  1 1/2 c. dry white wine, or 1 c. wine & 1/2 c. sherry
                  1 T. freshly chopped tarragon
                  1 c. strong chicken stock
                  Arrowroot thickener
                  Season breasts and dredge in flour. In lg. skillet (you'll probably need to work in two batches) over med-high heat, brown all breasts and set aside. Add shallots to skillet and saute briefly; add mushrooms and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add hearts, and then add wine. Bring to boil and cook until liquid is reduced by 3/4. Turn heat down; add chicken broth and stir well. Add tarragon. Thicken with arrowroot or Wondra and correct for salt and pepper; if it needs a squeeze of lemon now's the time.
                  At this point you either want to bake the chicken sauced, for 35 minutes, and then cool and wrap well for later use, or cool the sauce and put it away, then finish the chicken separately in the oven, cool and refrig., then sauce before you're ready to bring it up to temp. Either way, if you decide to use it, enjoy.

              3. Lately, I've been baking chicken parts surrounded by a medley of grape tomatoes, seedless black grapes, garlic cloves, and frozen pearl onions that have been stirred with some olive oil first. After the chicken is done I remove it and deglaze with balsamic vinegat or rice vinegar. It is flavorful and looks very pretty with the like-sized vegetables and fruit. Olives could sub for grapes if you prefer to avoid a sweet element.

                1. Along with Marbella, Chicken Pandora is another good option.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pamd

                    Yes, Chicken Pandora is a good one. I have made it for Passover and it can be made almost entirely in advance. The recipe says to cook the shallots, sun dried tomatoes and artichokes while the chicken is cooking but I cook that part a day ahead, cool and refrigerate, and then just add it to the chicken toward the end while it is cooking in the oven. Works beautifully and tastes great.

                  2. Dave Lieberman's Apricot Chicken:


                    it goes really well with latkes.

                    1. I like chicken penne. First, brown some boneless chcken breasts in olive oil. In a different pan, sweat some onions, peppers (red & green) and garlic, with oregano\basil\whatever spices you like. Combine the two when both are done. Then make your tomato sauce (whatever your recipe may be). Cook the penne.

                      It can all be done the day before (except the actual penne) and rewarmed (even tastier). No bothersome dairy to mix with the meat.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: gaffk

                        You would not have pasta with latkes.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          No, but omit the pasta and you've got a workin' chicken Cacciatore, red or white. She might be onto something here; it reheats beautifully and is better after a day or two. Only thing I'd change for Cacciatore is using all manner of chicken parts, not just breasts. Another idea to think about!

                          1. re: mamachef

                            cacciatore was one of my first thoughts...but then i thought about how i personally like to eat my latkes - with applesauce and sour cream - and i decided it might not be the best pairing :)

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              Agreed - I would not want chicken along with latkes (no meat at all, unless it's a bit of unadorned, browned sausage, as I am not Jewish, much less kosher). But the OP wants chicken.

                              1. re: greygarious

                                well, fried or simple roast chicken is usually the traditional accompaniment for latkes, but since OP is feeding a crowd & needs a make-ahead recipe, my mind immediately went to some of the other standard default recipes for the Jewish holidays - IMO she's on the right track with Marbella or something similar. (the tomato base in cacciatore doesn't work for me with applesauce & sour cream!)

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  Greygarious -- what would you serve if red meat wasn't an option?

                                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  That's how I eat mine - but thought she might be serving the latkes as a separate course, not a side dish. Re-read the OP and it doesn't seem to be so, so I'd like to take this opportunity to suggest that Cindy J should do just that and serve the chicken course with a green salad or vegetable.

                                  1. re: mamachef

                                    If it was just my family, we could make a meal of latkes alone. But in this case, the latkes will be more of a side dish. Personally, I'd love to make a brisket to go with the latkes, but we've got a couple of folks who don't eat red meat, so I figured chicken is the next best thing.

                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                      For me, latkes and homemade applesauce are the whole meal. On the few occasions when I've been a little short on potato or apples, I pan-fry some sausage. My parents grew up in Germany (non-Jewish families) and this was the only meatless-meal we ever had, so that's how I was raised.

                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                        CindyJ, I've eaten sooooo many meals of latkes alone (well, with the usual suspects, anyway..) that I wouldn't have a problem with it either. But if you really want to serve brisket or potroast and you have a crockpot, you could - and then just offer the chicken optionally. You are a very courteous hostess indeed. You've got some work ahead of you though, so perhaps just best to stay with the clucker.

                                3. re: greygarious

                                  The pasta is optional. I grew up in a very Jewish neighborhood, so I would never mix meat and dairy. No reason it has to be chicken breasts--it can be dark meat--but season to taste.

                                4. re: gaffk

                                  oops, forgot the mushrooms . . .they are integral for the earthiness.