Palate revolutionDo you remember the revolution? It was...

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April 26, 1992|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,Staff Writer

Palate revolution

Do you remember the revolution? It was spring of 1982, and Workman Publishing had just begun shipping out a somewhat tentative 17,000 copies of the "Silver Palate Cookbook," by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. The recipes were based on the food served at the pair's popular New York carryout, the Silver Palate. Suddenly it was all right to adore garlic, and to blend savory and sweet flavors. It was OK to add herbs by the handful and spices by the tablespoon to liven up simple, fresh ingredients. It was great food, and it was great fun.

It's been 10 years and 2 million copies, and the cookbook will enter James Beard's "Cookbook Hall of Fame" in a gala celebration May 4 in New York.

As part of the birthday celebration, Workman is issuing a special paperback edition of the cookbook at the original price of $9.95 -- and in a confident printing of 145,000 copies. If your old copy is dog-eared and sauce-spattered, now's the time to replace it.

Among the most popular recipes in the book is this one for a special chicken dish. The authors introduced it this way:

"This was the first main-course dish to be served at the Silver Palate, and the distinctive flavors of the prunes, olives and capers have kept it a favorite for years."

"Overnight marination is essential to the moistness of the finished product: The chicken keeps and even improves over several days of refrigeration; it travels well and makes excellent picnic fare.

"Since Chicken Marbella is such a spectacular party dish, we give quantities to serve 10 to 12, but the recipe can successfully be divided to make smaller quantities if you wish."

Chicken Marbella

rves 10 to 12

4 chickens, 2 1/2 pounds each

1 head garlic, peeled and finely pureed

1/4 cup dried oregano

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

cup red wine vinegar

cup olive oil

1 cup pitted prunes

1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives

1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice

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, over night.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange the 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 widest, 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 sauce-boat.

(In the 10 years since this recipe was first published, people have become far more concerned about the possibility of bacterial contamination in poultry. According to the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hot Line, which answers questions about food safety and nutrition, there's no problem with serving the marinade in this recipe, as long as it and the chicken are thoroughly cooked; if the directions are followed, it will be. However, hot line home economists said they couldn't recommend a suggestion in the original recipe that the chicken be served at room temperature.)

In the mood for a good steak? Ruth Fertel and Steve de Castro want to make sure you can satisfy that craving: They've picked an Inner Harbor site for the country's 32nd Ruth's Chris Steak House. The restaurant, which calls itself "The Home of Serious Steaks," was founded in 1965 in New Orleans by Ms. Fertel. There are 31 other Ruth's Chris Steak Houses in 17 other states and the District of Columbia; all feature prime beef, never frozen, hand cut daily on the premises and broiled on specially built broilers at a temperature of 1,800 degrees.

"We think Baltimore is ready for a prime steak house," said Mr. de Castro, a native of Cuba who managed the D.C. Ruth's Chris for six years and who will own the franchised operation in Baltimore. "I've been looking at Baltimore for the last four or five years" as a potential site for a steak house, he said. "It's a great town."

Besides steak, the restaurant will also offer seafood, Maine lobster, prime lamb, veal and pork chops, crab cakes, salads and eight kinds of potatoes. The wine list will offer more than 140 labels. Entree prices will range from $14.95 to $22.95. The restaurant will seat 275 people; a lounge that opens at 4 p.m. will seat 40. And perhaps the best news of all is that there will be free valet parking from the front door, starting at 5 p.m.

The restaurant is located at 600 Water St. Hours are 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Food and wine

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