Monday, April 4, 2011

Chicken Marbella

Fairly recently I discovered, much to my amazement, that not everyone shares my affinity for sweet and savory in the same dish. I mentioned Chicken Marbella to Jessie, a friend of a dear friend, who said that she would never fix anything that had chicken and prunes together. She just wasn’t drawn to those combinations.

You have probably noticed by now or will notice now that I've mentioned it that I am drawn to those combinations. In fact, they jump off the page of a cookbook and into my lap. Sweet and salty. Raisins and bacon. My mouth waters. I want you to know that I fully confess to this affinity and won’t take offense if you don’t share it.

What is really great about Chicken Marbella is its ease: you can marinate the day before, then put it in your pots or pans, pour in the wine and sprinkle sugar, and bake. None of that nasty browning business. The thighs are much more forgiving than chicken breasts which tend to dry out.

8-10 chicken thighs, skin and extra fat removed
½ head of garlic, peeled and pressed
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1 cup pitted green olives
¼ cup capers with a bit of juice
3 bay leaves
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup wine
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro

1. In a large bowl, combine the chicken thighs, garlic, oregano, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Add the salt and pepper. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight. You can also make it in the morning and refrigerate for the day.
2. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
3. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large shallow baking pans or clay pots and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when the juice from the thighs runs clear, not pink, when pricked.
5. If you’ve cooked in the clay pots, then leave them as they are. If you’ve cooked in not-so-pretty pans, transfer the thighs, prunes, olives and capers with a slotted spoon to a serving platter, moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and pass the remaining juices in a small pitcher. Sprinkle the clay pots or the platter generously with parsley or cilantro.
Note: This dish can be served right out of the oven or at room temperature.

4-6 servings
Adapted from Julee Ross and Sheila Lukins’ The Silver Palate Cookbook

Coconut Rice
This rice is actually Cuban, but it goes with the Marbella so nicely. Both speak Spanish fluently. The photo doesn't reveal how tasty this dish is. Delicious.

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
I am crazy about these tomatoes. Fresh sliced regular tomatoes or cherry tomatoes would be great with this meal as well. Both the roasted and fresh add a necessary color to the plate.

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