Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chicken Marbella

Chicken is that ubiquitous ingredient that shows up every week and usually fails to inspire.  It is a go-to staple when I am shopping because it is an easy sell with the kids and is a versatile ingredient for any number of recipes. 
But it is often a big bore. I am seldom truly excited at the thought of chicken for dinner.  It is a good comfort food but I never order it when I go out.  It just seems too mundane and I always want something special when I go out for a meal. It's like a guest that keeps showing up, with nothing new to say and never knowing that they have overstayed their welcome. Honestly, chicken it is time you came up with a better story.

Well, this week, it did. This week, chicken transformed itself into Chicken Marbella, a flavourful, unique and completely unexpected performance from my boring old friend.  Chicken finally went out and bought itself a new dress and got it's hair done.
This is the classic recipe from the Silver Palette Cookbook.  I found it, as I do so many recipes, while surfing the Internet. I read the ingredient list and thought "what a completely odd and (I hate to say it) kind of off-putting combination of flavours". Chicken, prunes, olives, capers, white wine, brown sugar???? Well, curiosity got the better of me and I tried it. 
What can I say, it is absolutely delicious. The sauce is complex and sophisticated. A combination of heady sweetness from the dried prunes with the sour and bitter flavours of the green olives and capers. In a word, it is sublime. And better still, it is so easy to make.  Chicken pieces are marinated overnight and then baked. This is a "wow" dinner party meal with very little prep or effort.  I think I just got excited about chicken!

Chicken Marbella
This recipe had been adapted from The Silver Palette Cookbook.

Prep time: 12 hours
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 day
Yield: 10 - 12

  • 4 chickens, skinned and quartered
  • 1 whole head of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup pitted prunes
  • 1 1/2 cup large green olives
  • 250ml jar of capers with the juice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley

Cooking Directions
  1. In a large oven safe baking dish combine the chicken, garlic, oregano, prunes, olives, capers with their juice, wine vinegar, olive oil, bay leaves and salt and pepper. Stir to coat the chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In the same baking dish, sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken and marinade. Pour the white wine over it.
  4. Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 to 11/2 hours, basting the chicken frequently with the marinade. Chicken is done when the breast and thigh juices run clear when poked with a knife at the thickest part.
  5. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with parsley. Can be eaten hot or cold. Serve the chicken with a bit of the marinade and some of the prunes, olives and capers. Enjoy!

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