In true holiday-season style, it’s been an exhausting week, but a great one just the same. It began with the above, which could only have been a good sign. We spent Monday night toasting the King’s birthday with a sunset-kissed sky, fireworks high over the city, and a table of good friends. From there, the week flew by, encompassing within its fold a festive Christmas concert and evenings of steamy yoga that left my mind calm and my muscles shaky.
In response to the busy week, I decided that only one thing would do…wedding chicken. It is, in all reality, not called wedding chicken. In fact, calling it wedding chicken implies that I might have some sort of ownership over it. I do not. Even though it happens to have been the chicken served at our wedding, this chicken recipe made the rounds long before it graced my kitchen. You may know it as Chicken Marbella (or Chicken “Mira”bella, as I have incorrectly called it since childhood).
My mother makes it, my grandma makes it, my aunt makes it, and so, when I became a grown-up, I learned to make it too (although it’s so easy, there wasn’t much “learning” involved). In fact, I have discovered that we are not the only group of women for whom this is true. Chicken Marbella is just one of those recipes that gets passed on and becomes a staple. We owe it all to the Silver Palate Cookbook (the very first cookbook I owned). The timeless quality of this dish was evidenced all the more when I found it at Epicurious.com and discovered that, even now, its reviews are through the roof. 99% of reviewers on the site say they would make it again. I agree with the praise. And if you try it, I suspect that you too will make it again…and again.
And now, I’m off to remedy the busy week with an outrageously quiet Friday night at home. Candles lit, tree glowing, Anthony Bourdain muttering snarky comments on TV. The week was great. The weekend will be even better.
An easy, overnight marinade does all the work for this tender, sweet and salty chicken dish that always impresses guests, but is simple enough for a weeknight dinner. I am so confident that everyone who tries this will love it that I had the caterers serve it at our wedding!
Recipe type: Chicken, Main Dish
Yield: serves 10-12 (I often quarter the recipe to serve 4)
- 4 chickens, 2½ pounds each, quartered
- 1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
- ¼ cup dried oregano
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 cup pitted prunes
- ½ cup pitted Spanish green olives
- ½ cup capers with a bit of juice
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white wine
- ¼ cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
- Marinate overnight. In a large bowl combine chicken quarters, garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
- Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice.
- With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.
From The Silver Palate Cookbook and shared via Epicurious.