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World Chefs: Cookbook preserves warm memories of dark times

Jul 5, 2011, 3:01 a.m.

Q: What are some essentials of a Jewish pantry?

A: "A lot of Eastern European cooking relies on that balance between sweet and sour. Sephardic and Greek cooks will use balsamic vinegar in lentil soup. And much as Italians will add basil at the end, Jewish cooks will add dill. They also use ketchup. And I could talk about paprika for an hour."

Lily Margules' Chicken with Prunes Tsimmes (four servings)

1 (3 ½ to 4 pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces (skin can be removed)

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups water

½ cup red wine (or broth)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons honey

2 cups pitted prunes

Kosher salt & pepper

2 russet (or sweet) potatoes (about ¾ pound), peeled and cut into large chunks

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven, and brown the chicken parts on all sides, over medium heat, about 15 minutes. Pour off the fat and add 1 cup of the water, the wine (or broth), brown sugar, honey and prunes.

Season the dish with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 1 hour, and then add 1 more cup of water and the potatoes, being sure to tuck the potatoes into the sauce.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for 45 to 60 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. If the sauce is too concentrated, add some boiling water, heat through and serve.

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