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Sheila Lukins of 'Silver Palate' fame dead at 66

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Sad news to start off the week: Sheila Lukins, author of the seminal Silver Palate cookbook, died Sunday of brain cancer.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with the delightfully quirky Lukins back in late November. She was on tour promoting her book, "Ten: All the Foods We Love and 10 Recipes for Each."

The New Yorker, who with her writing and business partner Julee Rosso eased American home cooks into a world of raspberry vinegar, pesto and other then-esoteric ingredients via the pages of the Silver Palate Cookbook, gushed about visiting the Green City Market earlier that day and produce that "would have knocked your socks off." She talked about how frozen peas are a godsend, and that "people were yelling at me because I didn't have a cookie section [in Ten]."

Chances are, you have the Silver Palate on your shelf. Hang on to it. If you don't, at least hang on to the following recipe. Chicken Marbella is a Silver Palate classic, not to mention damn tasty. Thank you, Sheila.

Recipe after the jump.

Chicken Marbella

MAKES 10 OR MORE SERVINGS

4 chickens, 2 1/2 pounds each, quartered
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup Italian parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped

In a large bowl combine chicken quarters, garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice.

With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.

To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in cooking juices before transferring to a serving platter. If chicken has been covered and refrigerated, allow it to return to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the reserved juices over chicken.

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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