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.

Don’t throw out your back!

It's not haute cuisine, but there is no finer comfort than homemade chicken soup.

While my chicken was baking tonight I made this gorgeous little pot of chicken noodle soup, with enough for every one to have a bowl full. For a quick batch of soup, put the back of the chicken into a medium-sized pot, add an onion, a chopped carrot and celery stalk, a clove of garlic, salt and pepper, cover with water and let it simmer for a couple of hours. And if you’re not sick of rosemary yet, you can add a sprig, along with a handful of chopped parsley or some frozen peas if you have them. Right before you’re ready to eat pour in some tiny egg noodles.

Mom’s Baked Chicken (with Matzo Meal), and Rosemary Potatoes

Mom’s baked chicken, served with rosemary potatoes, broccoli and strawberries.

Chicken and potatoes ready for the oven. Bake them together.

I just put this chicken and potatoes in the oven. It only took 5 minutes to prepare this crisp, flavorful and succulent chicken, and now I can sit back and wait for dinner. I’ll add some fresh steamed broccoli, and will enjoy a superb meal with less than 10 minutes of total prep time—does it get any easier than this?

If you’d enjoy the recipe, please visit the Apple iTunes store to download my app, iNosh. Here’s the link for that:

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