Panko Stuffed Swordfish Roast (plus Eli’s Salmon & Chicken Marbella)

I have to admit that when I am planning a dinner party, more often than not I have the menu set before the guest list is confirmed or date secured.  I love scouring my recipe binders, Pinterest and cookbook collection looking for the perfect meal.

So what makes the cut?  For me it’s an array of dishes that can be made almost entirely in advance.  That stipulation rules out the great majority of impressive recipes but I know my weaknesses, so for me, it’s pretty much a non-negotiable.

You see once the party gets started, I’m in the mix, having fun, not keeping my “eye on the prize.”  Even the simplest tasks, like preheating the oven, will often slip my mind.  So when I find a main course that can be prepped earlier in the day and then heated before serving, I give it a go. And when that dish receives rave reviews, it’s put in the regular rotation.

There are several dishes that have been long featured in my All-Star Line-Up.  The first being, Chicken Marbella from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.  I’m not sure how this cookbook made its way into my hands other than the fact that every New Yorker in the 80s knew of The Silver Palate.  The book is chock full of reliable dishes that were accessible yet somewhat cutting edge.  And these recipes have stood the test of time.  Some of the once exotic ingredients have become less so but that has only makes The Silver Palate all the more relevant.  I would argue that Chicken Marbella is the most popular recipe to come from this cookbook but I have no proof of that and know many loyalists to the Raspberry Chicken, which happens to be conveniently located on the page adjacent to Marbella.  The key to Chicken Marbella is to marinate the chicken at a minimum overnight and at best over several days in the refrigerator.  What could be better than that?

Another All-Star dish in my repertoire is Eli’s Salmon, from yet another iconic New Yorker, Eli Zabar (my Big Apple bias is clearly rearing its ugly head).  This dish features a big beautiful salmon fillet that can be served hot, warm or at room temperature.  It works equally well as a plated dish, being passed family-style around the table or featured on a buffet.  It’s a hands down winner.

So today, I will share both of these All-Stars with you, along with a new one that I made this past Saturday night.  Panko-Stuffed Swordfish Roast was David Hagedorn’s recipe featured in the Washington Post’s Food Section on Wednesday, January 23, 2013.  If you don’t have a stellar fish market, you’ll want to be sure to order your swordfish in advance as it requires a somewhat unique cut.  I happened to buy my piece of fish from Black Salt Market in DC, which was mentioned in the article.  My belief that this dish would be accolade worthy was confirmed when the fishmonger noted that mine was the fifth such “rib roast of swordfish” that he had sold in the eight days since the article ran.  No small statement given the pricetag but trust me, the ability to prep earlier in the day, the stunning presentation and “oohs,” “ahhs” and “yums” around the table made it very worthwhile.

Chicken Marbella

Chicken Marbella

Chicken Marbella
Serves 10
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  1. 4 chickens, 2 1/2 lbs each, quartered (I use 10 lbs of a combination of pre-cut breasts and thighs)
  2. 1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
  3. 1/4 cup dried oregano
  4. coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  5. 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  6. 1/2 cup olive oil
  7. 1 cup pitted prunes
  8. 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
  9. 1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
  10. 6 bay leaves
  11. 1 cup brown sugar
  12. 1 cup white wine
  13. 1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
  1. In a large bowl combine the chicken with garlic, oregano, pepper, salt, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves.  Cover or place in a zip-lock bag and refrigerate overnight or for several days.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350F.  Arrange chicken in a single layer on 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.
  3. 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 juice (as opposed to pink).
  4. With a slotted spoon transfer the chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter.  Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley.  Pass remaining juices in a sauceboat.
  1. To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in cooking juices before transferring to a serving platter.  If the chicken has been covered and refrigerated, allow it to return to room temperature before serving.  Spoon some of the reserved juice over the chicken.
Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook
Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook
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Eli's Salmon
Serves 6
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  1. 2 1/4 pounds center-cut salmon fillet (1 1/2 inches thick)
  2. 1 cup soy sauce
  3. 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  4. 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  5. 2 Tbls oyster sauce
  6. 1 Tbls fish sauce
  7. 1 Tbls toasted sesame oil
  8. 1 1/2 tsp chili paste
  9. 1/2 cup sliced scallions (2 scallions)
  10. 2 Tbls minced garlic (8 large cloves)
  11. 2 Tbls minced fresh ginger
  12. 1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
  1. Line an 8" x 12" baking pan with aluminum foil. Place the salmon in the pan.
  2. In a mixing cup, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, lemon juice, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, chili paste,scallions, garlic, and ginger.
  3. Pour 1/3 of soy sauce mixture over the salmon fillet.
  4. Sprinkle the panko evenly over the fillet.
  5. Pour the rest of the soy sauce mixture evenly over the panko. Be sure to soak the panko completely and if any runs off, spoon back onto the salmon.
  6. Set aside for 15 minutes, leaving all the sauce in the pan.
  7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500F. Roast the salmon for 18 to 20 minutes, or for about 12 minutes per inch at the thickest part of the salmon. The internal temperature will be 120F when it's done.
  8. Remove from the oven, wrap tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  9. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa
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Panko-Stuffed Swordfish Roast
Serves 6
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  1. 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 2 Tbls unsalted butter
  3. 4 tsp capers, drained
  4. 1 medium clove of garlic, minced
  5. 1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
  6. 2 cups plain panko bread crumbs
  7. 1 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)
  8. 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
  9. 1 tsp finely ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  10. 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  11. 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  12. One 2 lb, 4 oz. piece of skin-on swordfish, cut from one side of the center, with all traces of the bloodline removed (about 5" long and 4" high, akin to a small rib roast)
  1. Use a Tbls of the oil to grease the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish.
  2. Heat remaining 1/2 cup of the oil with the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until the butter foams.  Add the capers and cook for 1 minute, until they blister. Stir in the garlic and thyme; cook for 15 seconds.  Add the bread crumbs, paprika, tsp of salt and tsp of pepper, lemon juice and rosemary, stirring until thoroughly incorporated. Let cool.
  3. Preheat over to 350F.
  4. Lay a long piece of kitchen twine horizontally down the center of a cutting board.  With its long side facing you, center the swordfish on top of the twine, skin side down (this is so you can tie the roast together after you finish stuffing it).  Cut five equidistant slices into the swordfish, making sure to stop slicing a half-inch before you reach the skin (at the bottom).  This will create flaps that enclose the stuffing, and a total of six slices. Season each slice lightly with salt and pepper.
  5. Fill each opening with an equal amount of the stuffing, pressing it in gently. As stuffing falls onto the cutting board, press it back between the slices of the fish. Don't worry if the roast looks a little messy. Tie the whole roast together with the twine to keep the end slices from collapsing as they cook. Transfer the tied roast to the baking dish, sprinkling any crumbs from the cutting board evenly over the roast.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour; an instant read thermometer inserted into one of the center slices, should register 125F.
  7. Discard the twine and carve through to the bottom of the roast to separate the six slices. Serve each slice with plenty of stuffing.
  1. Stuffing can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.  Fish can be stuffed and stored in the refrigerator several hours before baking. Bring fish to room temperature before putting in the oven.
Adapted from The Washington Post, 1/23/13
Adapted from The Washington Post, 1/23/13
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Panko-Stuffed Swordfish