I could barely wait for the summer to begin so that I could share this wonderful dish with you. I first tasted this classic Chicken Marbella dish many years ago, when my boss, at the time, made it for a work gathering, and I was blown away. She shared the recipe with me back then, and I haven’t let go of it since. Adapted from The Silver Palate cook book version, this is the perfect summer Shabbat main course. Why, you may ask. It’s because this chicken tastes best when it’s at room temperature, and not hot. So this is one less dish for you to squeeze onto the hot plate.
What I love about the taste of this chicken is that it’s far more delicious than the sum of its parts. Ingredients include capers and green olives, neither of which I am fan. But in this dish, these flavors combine beautifully with the dried prunes, garlic, herbs, white wine and brown sugar to ensure that you are serving a winner every time. The most important part of this dish though, is its marinading time. It must sit overnight in the marinade. This way, all the flavors really permeate the meat and make the chicken exceptionally delicious.
2 chickens cut up into 8 pieces each (then I always ask the butcher to cut the breasts in half again so you have 4 pieces of breast meat per chicken)
10 cloves of garlic crushed (you can add more if you feel like it)
2 tablespoons dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted green olives with some of the juice
1/3 cup capers with some of the juice
4-5 bay leaves
Brown sugar to sprinkle over the chicken before cooking (about half a cup)
About 1 cup white wine
How to do it
1. In a large bowl combine the chicken pieces, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives and juice, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Mix through well so all the pieces are coated with the marinade. Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator (whatever you do, don’t skip the overnight marinading process!).
2. The next day…pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
3. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer and pour the marinade over. Sprinkle each chicken piece with a little brown sugar and pour the white wine around the pieces.
4. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, basting every now and again with the marinade. After around 45 minutes, check to see if the breasts are done using a fork to make sure there’s no pink in the center. If they are done, remove them from the baking tray and set aside. If they aren’t done, cook till they’re done, but don’t let them dry out – another 5-10 minutes. Return the dark meat pieces to the oven and carry on cooking for another half an hour or so, basting the chicken. When the dark pieces are done (the meat from the legs starts coming away form the bone and clear juices run from thigh pieces pricked with a fork in the meatiest parts, remove from the oven and leave to cool down.
5. Serve at room temperature. The chicken can be frozen and thawed, but make sure you leave enough time for the chicken to reach room temperature after thawing.
Serves about 10.