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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chicken Marbella

I first had Chicken Marbella at a lab party hosted by my boss in 2006.  It was incredible!  I loved everything about it - even the prunes were delicious, and I don't think I had ever tried a prune at that point.  It turns out that Chicken Marbella is a classic recipe from Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins that became popular at their Silver Palate shop in New York City.  I can definitely see why it was a hit with customers!  I received the 25th Anniversary Edition of the Silver Palate Cookbook for Christmas 2007 from my mother-in-law.  This is a great cookbook, and I highly recommend it.  
I have since made Chicken Marbella three times, and it's always a success.  The first time, I made it with bone-in chicken pieces, as called for in the original recipe.  The second time with boneless, skinless chicken thighs (and I think this is my favorite way), and the third with boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces.  I've even scaled the recipe down to 1/2 and 1/4.  You really can't go wrong with this recipe!  Please note that it does require overnight marination, so plan accordingly!

Chicken Marbella

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives (I've also used a mix of olives before, as show in the pics)
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano
Course salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), quartered (again, any type of chicken works well)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh cilantro, finely chopped (I omit this because I'm not a huge fan of fresh parsley, and cilantro just seems odd for this dish)

1.  Combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Add the chicken and stir to coat.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

2.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

3.  Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly.  Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the brown sugar and pour the white wine around them.

4.  Bake, basting frequently with the pan juices, until the thigh pieces yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice when pricked with a fork, 50 minutes to 1 hour.

5.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter.  Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with the parsley or cilantro.  Pass the remaining juices in a sauceboat.
16 pieces, 10 or more portions

Note:  To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in the cooking juices before transferring the pieces to a serving platter.  If the chicken has been covered and refrigerated, reheat it in the juices, then allow it to come to room temperature before serving.  Spoon some of the reserved juice over the chicken.

Source:  Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook

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