40 - Chicken Marbella

Chicken Marbella---how we loved this recipe when we discovered it decades ago in The Silver Palate Cookbook.
It is indeed humbling to acknowledge what an unwitting follower I was of cookbook trends and/or fads. Or was it that these recipes miraculously plugged exactly into our cooking desires? Trader Joe would eventually tap these same needs. In the days before we were quite so focused on local and organic produce, the Trader understood our longings for relatively healthy, inexpensive, very sweet and especially convenient foods all presented with a little spice and clever zip.

In any case, almost everyone I know (who has ever made any pretense of cooking) still has a worn, tattered copy of the Silver Palate Cookbook published in 1982, recipes full of butter and sugar, bold print and lovely line drawings.

I prepared hundreds of platters of Chicken Marbella over the years. Early on I added apricots making it even sweeter and more colorful. It was great for dinner and for picnics.

The recipe in the Silver Palate was for four small quartered chickens. I used the equivalent of two chickens--about six pounds--either entire chickens or just dark meat (I'm always happier with legs and thighs--and even fans of white meat like dark meat fine in this dish). Although I cut the amount of chicken in half, I happily used the full amount of seasonings.

The first step is to make the marinade—you can do this one or two or even three days in advance if you feel like it.

In a large bowl combine chicken, an entire head of garlic--each clove peeled and crushed, 1/4 cup dried oregano, salt and freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 cup pitted prunes, 1 cup dried apricots, 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives, 1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice and 6 bay leaves. Cover and refrigerate over-night, or longer.

When ready to cook--preheat oven to 350. Arrange chicken in a single layer in a large, shallow baking dish. Cover with the marinade. Add 1 cup brown sugar--trying to keep it atop the chicken pieces--and pour 1 cup white wine over it all.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, basting often with the pan juices. It's done when the juices of thighs or drumsticks, when pierced with a fork, run clear.

Transfer chicken pieces, olives, dried fruits and capers with a slotted spoon to serving dish. Add a bit of the juice and sprinkle generously with 1/2 cup parsley or cilantro. Serve most of the juice on the side (you might want rice or noodles, as well as bread to sop up the juices).

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