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Katie Lee's Tribute to Sheila Lukins

The food world lost an icon last month, when Sheila Lukins passed away at the age of 66.

She was the author of the "Silver Palate" series of cookbooks.

Lukins inspired countless cooks around the world, including "Early Show" contributor Katie lee and, to honor her, Katie prepared one of Lukins' favorite dishes on the shwo Wednesday: Chicken Marbella.

Lukins "made people feel like gourmet cooking was attainable," Katie says. "She made sophisticated, inventive foods that used ingredients that were accessible. She empowered people.

"I knew Sheila on a personal level. We met a few years ago through a mutual friend, and I cooked lunch for her the first time we met. I made fried chicken, and I was so nervous to cook for her, but it turned out great and she loved it. She also gave me advice when I was writing both of my cookbooks."

Chicken Marbella among the most famous and universally loved recipes from Lukins' books, and can be prepared for several different occasions. The chicken keeps in the fridge and even improves over several days, making it excellent picnic fare. And it's fantastic made with wings and small drumsticks as an appetizer.

RECIPE (from "Silver Palate Cookbook," by Sheila Lukins)

CHICKEN MARBELLA

This was the first main-course dish to be offered at The Silver Palate, and the distinctive colors and flavors of the prunes, olives and capers have kept it a favorite for years. It's good hot or at room temperature. When prepared with small drumsticks and wings, it makes a delicious hors d'oeuvre. The overnight marinating 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 be divided to make smaller amounts if you wish.

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1 head garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/2 cup dried oregano
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 chickens (2-1/2 pounds each), quartered
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh cilantro, finely chopped

METHOD:
1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F
3. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the brown sugar and pour the white wine around them.
4. Bake, basting frequently with the pan juices, until the thigh pieces yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice when pricked with a fork, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
5. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with the parsley or cilantro. Pass the remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.

NOTE: To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in the cooking juices before transferring the pieces to a serving platter. If the chicken has been covered and refrigerated, reheat it in the juices, then allow it to come to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the juice over the chicken.