Here’s a do-ahead meal that lets you channel both Martha and Mary
In Luke’s Gospel account of Martha serving and Mary listening at the feet of our Lord, I instinctively want to take Martha’s side when she complains that Mary is not helping. I understand the pressure Martha puts on herself to prepare a meal worthy of Jesus.
Olives, crackers and semisoft cheese
Pollo alla cacciatora
Garlic Yukon gold potatoes
Arugula salad with pear, blue cheese, red onion and balsamic dressing
Baguette with unsalted butter
Lemon cake with whipped cream
Surely, Martha was longing to listen at the feet of her holy guest, too. Getting the meal on the table must have been especially difficult after Jesus gently rebuked her, saying, “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:42)
In rereading this Gospel, I started thinking about times I’ve invited a priest or two to dinner. Over the years, I’ve come up with a plan so I can “choose the better part” and enjoy the meal and the friendship. So often we ask priests to pray for something special. A nice family dinner goes a long way in recognizing the burdens they carry and thanking them.
Ami Anderson, a member of the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater in Vancouver, frequently asks Father W.R. Harris to join her two children and husband, Doug, around the table. She has served everything from prime rib to tuna casserole on a Friday night. Even more than the kindness of preparing a meal, however, she wants to show that she recognizes the hardships and love our priests carry in their hearts.
“It’s most important that the people support our priests,” Anderson said. “The way you can do that is to show you care, to show you understand that they need support and they need prayers.”
With that in mind, I encourage you to invite your parish priest to dinner. I’ve put together a menu that allows you to prepare dishes ahead and then reheat them at the last minute. Most priests love to join families, and they would rather see you relaxed and visiting than worried and anxious in the kitchen. With a little preparation, you can channel both Martha and Mary for a loving gathering in your home.
Pollo Alla Cacciatora, or Hunter’s Wife’s Chicken
Americans usually refer to this dish as “chicken cacciatore” or hunter’s style chicken. But in Italy, the recipe is named “cacciatora” to honor the hunter’s wife, who traditionally cooked it the night before sending her husband out to hunt.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 pieces of skinless, boneless chicken
1/2 cup dry white wine
28-ounce can peeled, cut up Italian tomatoes (I use imported San Marzanos)
1 teaspoon fresh, chopped rosemary leaves
1/4 cup fresh, chopped Italian parsley
salt and pepper
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon drained capers
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes. Push the onions to the sides of the pan or set them aside in a bowl while you fry the chicken pieces. (If I have a couple of drumsticks in the mix, I brown them and remove the skin later.) Add the garlic. Cook over medium heat until the chicken is browned. Return the onions to the pan if you’ve set them aside.
Add the wine and let it simmer until it mostly evaporates. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the rosemary, parsley, salt and pepper. Let that simmer slowly for about 45 minutes, gradually adding the chicken stock and stirring from time to time. Mix in the capers. This dish can be prepared a day ahead and then reheated.
For the potatoes, wash and quarter six small Yukon golds. Toss them in olive oil on a cookie sheet and place them into a 350-degree oven. After about 10 minutes, add three cloves of chopped garlic and salt and pepper. The potatoes will finish in another 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.
Northwest Catholic - October 2014
Janet Cleaveland is a member of the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater in Vancouver.