Sister dinner: Chicken Jubilee and Fresh Garden Asparagus

Dori, Richard, Aaron and Maralee. Glencoe, Illinois, 1962.

My sister Maralee was on my mind today. At Joe’s piano lesson, I was sure I smelled Chicken Jubilee coming from Mrs. Todd’s kitchen. Our mother prepared the legendary Chicken Jubilee for Maralee’s Bat Mitzvah dinner, cooking and freezing chickens weeks ahead of the event, so as to feed the congregation and invited guests. I was only three at the time and I don’t remember the chickens. My earliest memory of my older siblings was sitting (kneeling, actually, on a piano bench in our living room) for this photograph, which was taken the following year. I remember how ridiculous it was to pose with my hands on my brother’s shoulder.

Everyone should be lucky enough to have a big sister like mine. Maralee is generous and thoughtful. She brings me gifts like my very own box of See’s chocolates, big red mixing bowls for my little red kitchen, silver earrings from Israel, a colorful lizard-shaped door bell, and fresh asparagus from her garden. She is selfless, and loves me more than anything. And this week, when I was sick with a chest cold and didn’t want to think about food, Maralee made enough soup and lasagna to feed our family for three days. I so appreciate the loving gift of a meal, of a soup over-flowing with vegetables and a lasagna thick with spinach and cheese. Perhaps that’s why, today, my head imagined the aroma of her Bat Mitzvah dinner, which I then made for our dinner.

The last time I made this dish for my kids, they turned up their noses at chicken with cherries in the name. So tonight I called it barbecued chicken and it became delicious to them. It’s all in the advertising. But I was sure to tell them, “this was the chicken that Grandma made for Aunt Maralee’s Bat Mitzvah dinner.”

Chicken Jubilee, topped with cherries, raisins and onions, hot out of the oven.

We enjoyed asparagus fresh from Maralee’s garden.

Chicken Jubilee

  • 2 Chickens, cut up
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 med. onions, sliced
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1 12-oz. jar chili sauce
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 c. sherry
  • 1 can bing cherries

Season the chicken, brown in a little oil. Combine all ingredients except for sherry and cherries, pour over chicken, and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Pour sherry and cherries over wine, bake an additional 15 minutes. Serve hot over rice.

4 thoughts on “Sister dinner: Chicken Jubilee and Fresh Garden Asparagus

  1. Yesssss!!! Chicken Jubilee! My Great Auntie Esther always made it for Rosh HaShana dinner, and it was one of my favorite birthday dinner requests. The recipe is in “Thought for Buffets,” which my mom bought me so I’d have the recipe.

  2. Dori, this is such a sweet post. Sorry to hear you weren’t feeling well, but happy that your big sister was there to take care of you.

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