As you know, I have officially joined the ranks of the bionic humans, I have a new knee joint. Hopefully in a year’s time I will be able to leap small buildings in a single bound or at least be able to do yoga and walk on the beach again. It has been 6 weeks today and I’m feeling stronger all the time! But sometimes it felt like I will never get through this except for the strong and loving support of friends and family.
The one of the many of areas of support from this community that has been particularly magical is the meal train. It has been arriving at our door step every night for the last month, loaded with love, support and incredibly tasty meals. We are constantly amazed at the lovingly prepared foods that we dine on during this challenging period.
Dishes like pork loin with maple sweet potatoes and hand cranked blood orange sorbet for dessert. Or how about the lemon chicken with an artichoke salad with a lemon vinaigrette? Or the corn beef and cabbage with the goat cheese beet terrine with spinach salad that hopped onto our table like a leprechaun for St Patty’s Day. (Are you sufficiently drooling yet? I am.) In fact, hubby asked me the other day if I needed my other knee done anytime soon. (Isn’t he sweet?)
I have organized a few meal trains in the past and it was a bit like herding cats; lots of calling, organizing and scrambling to make it happen. But there is a new way of organizing meal trains for loved ones that is virtually effortless. It is called MealTrain.com. It was started when a good Samaritan, Kathleen Laramee, was busy organizing meals for a friend who had just had a baby. The process was getting very complex as people wanted to know what days are open, what to fix, for how many and can I exchanged days with anyone. She looked at her husband, Michael Laramee, in desperation and remarked how there had to be an easier way!
Michael had an idea and called a friend and software developer, Stephen DePasquale and the three of them brain stormed mealtrain.com into existence. Now this super user friendly web site has helped organize over 400,000 meals for over 42,000 families. 1,600 families get a meal each night due to this free and invaluable site. There is also a premium version available for a reasonable fee.
This web site is so easy to use that my cat could figure it out. Just go to MealTrain.com, sign up and create a meal train for a family that is need. Mealtrain.com does not share your information with anyone and the format is incredibly approachable for everyone. The one slightly complicated thing is getting everyone’s email addresses from the family in need and inviting them to participate. Also friends and family that aren’t cyberized need to be helped a bit. Still, it is way easier than herding cats.
This fine dish that came to us on the meal train is from Tela Skinner. She said it originated from the super popular “Silver Palate Cookbook.” She had the dish served to her at a friend’s house and was instantly hooked. It is a showy dish that is great for entertaining and easy to cook. It travels well and is loved by all. This dish is thought to originate in Marbella Spain but also has Moroccan influence in it too. I have “paleo-ized” it by lowering the amount of sweetener in it and chucking the cous cous. It is perfect just served with salad.
The original recipe calls for 1 cup of brown sugar opposed to the 1/2 cup of honey. I took the liberty of substituting honey for the brown sugar as it is more authentic of the Spanish cuisine and better for you. Feel free to cut the honey 1/4 cup if you like. It is still wonderful.
8-10 pounds of chicken breasts and thighs
Or 2 five pound chickens, quartered
1 teaspoon of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 head of garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 cup of dried oregano
1/2 cup of red wine vinegar
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 cup of pitted prunes
1/2 cup of Spanish green olives
1/2 cup of capers with juice
6 bay leaves
1/2 cup of honey
1 cup of white wine
1/4 cup of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Get out a generous bowl and mix the garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and bay leaves, together. Add the chicken, making sure the chicken is covered in the marinade. Cover up the lovely mix and tuck in the fridge to marinade overnight up to 12 hours.
The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the chicken in a large baking dish or two medium dishes and spoon the yummy marinade, chunks and all, over the chicken. Drizzle the honey over the chicken and then pour the white wine around the chicken. Layer the bay leaves on the chicken in an attractive way and tuck in the oven to bake for 50 minutes to an hour. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, have a clear yellow fluid run out of them, opposed to pink.
When you have this masterpiece out of the oven, you may serve the whole shebang in the baking dish or get fancy and removed chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving dish with a slotted spoon. Then pour the pan juices in a gravy boat and serve with chicken. White rice pairs well with this Spanish inspired dish, if you so desire. I liked mine with salad and a glass of wine. (It is also wonderful cold or room temperature.)