This elegant chicken dish is marvelous for any special occasion, especially the Jewish High Holidays as it contains honey, wine, and dried fruit. This recipe is a triple blessing – it's easy, can be doubled for a large crowd, and can be prepared in advance. It's guaranteed to inspire rave reviews.
Food Editor's Notes: I made this dish for a Shabbat dinner and everyone loved it. It would be great for a seder! Even the kids who didn't eat the fruit and vegetable garnishes liked the flavor of the chicken. This is really easy to make and great for a crowd, as you can put it all together in advance and just pop it in the oven about 1 1/2 hours before you want to serve it. It is pretty, with the colors of the apricots, sun-dried tomatoes, and black olives, along with the flecks of herbs on the golden-skinned chicken. (I don't even bother to put the herbs under the skin as suggested, but just sprinkle it on top to save time.) It is tasty, with lots of delicious flavors, none overwhelming, and not too sweet. And it is healthy, with nutritious ingredients and little fat (be sure to trim the excess fat from the uncooked chicken). I served this with a bulgur and orzo pilaf - not on Passover, of course! - and oven-roasted asparagus. Delicious!
2 whole chickens (3 lbs. each), cut into pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning (or a mixture of basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary)
6 to 8 cloves garlic (about 2-3 tablespoons minced)
3/4 to 1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup pitted black olives
1/2 cup dry-packed, sun-dried tomatoes, halved or coarsely chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
2 bay leaves
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
1. Rinse the chickens well and pat dry with paper towels. Trim the excess fat. Place the chickens in a large roasting pan sprayed with cooking spray. Season the chickens inside, outside, and under the skin with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic. Add the apricots, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes to the pan. (The dried apricots and sun-dried tomatoes will plump up during marinating and cooking.)
2. In a measuring cup, combine the balsamic vinegar, honey, and olive oil. Drizzle evenly over the chicken mixture; mix well so that the chicken is thoroughly coated. Pour the wine around the chicken and add the bay leaves. Cover the pan and refrigerate for several hours or for as long as 2 days.
3. When the chicken is marinated, remove from the refrigerator, uncover, and bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, basting often. When done, the skin will be golden and the juices will run clear when pierced with a fork. Remove the bay leaves and discard.
4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken mixture to a serving platter. Drizzle with some of the pan juices and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley. Place the remaining pan juices in a gravy bowl, skim off the fat, and serve alongside the chicken.
Yield: 10 to 12 servings. Keeps for up to 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator; reheats well. Freezes well for up to 4 months.
307 calories per serving (without skin), 17.4 g carbohydrate, 1.3 g fiber, 31 g protein, 11.7 g fat (2.6 g saturated), 93 mg cholesterol, 245 mg sodium, 477 mg potassium, 2 mg iron, 36 mg calcium
Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is a culinary consultant, cooking teacher/lecturer, cookbook author, and freelance food writer, focusing on healthy cooking. Norene's Healthy Kitchen (Whitecap Books, 2007) is her seventh cookbook, several of which are among this Food Editor's all-time favorites. Visit Norene's web site, www.gourmania.com, for information on her cookbooks and ordering instructions, plus more recipes and lots of helpful hints and food-related resources. Highly recommended!