Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chicken Marbella

I was at my grandparent's house last week and my aunt and I were trying to think of something to cook for my cousin's birthday. She pulled out her go-to dish, chicken marbella. Having never heard of it, I was slightly terrified when I looked at the recipe, which includes prunes, olives and capers. At least it doesn't have anchovies, I thought.
I was also unable to pronounce it correctly. (It's pronounced mar-bay-ya, not mar-bell-a, as I thought it was.) Though I was skeptical, everyone assured me that it was amazing and we had to make it.
So I did.

Chicken Marbella (Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook):
Serves 10-12


12 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium head of garlic or 2 small heads, pureed
1/3 cup dried oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil, divided
1-1/2 cup pitted prunes
2/3 cup pitted Spanish green olives, drained
1 3.5 oz jar capers with juice
6-8 bay leaves
1-1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup Italian parsley or fresh cilantro, finely chopped


In large bowl or roasting pan, combine garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, prunes, olives, capers with juice, and bay leaves.
Mix until combined. Add chicken breasts and coat with marinade.

Cover and let marinate in fridge for at least 6 hours; preferably overnight. Turn chicken over and re-coat halfway through marinating.
Coolest. Fridge. EVER.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large baking pans. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pour white wine around chicken.

Bake for at least 20 minutes, until inside of chicken is cooked. Baste every 15 minutes.

(We had oven problems, so I don't have an exact figure on the baking time. Ours took an hour, but the breasts were still partially frozen and the oven was being opened every few minutes. My aunt said that it should have taken around 20 minutes.)
With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to serving platter. Pour several spoonfuls of marinade on top and pour remaining pan juices into a sauceboat. Sprinkle chicken generously with parsley or cilantro. Serve.

To serve cold, allow to cool to room temperature in roasting pan, then transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Well, my relatives were right. This was great! The chicken was moist and perfectly cooked, despite our oven "issues", and tasted great. It had a slightly sweet outer crust with a nice tang from the vinegar. The prunes were really good after soaking in the pan juices, although I've never liked olives before and I still didn't like them then. It was really easy to prepare the marinade. My only issue is that we had so much trouble cooking it, which was really my fault. I recommend serving this with rice or really good bread, as we did.
Question of the Day: Who the heck thought of marinating chicken with prunes, olives, and capers? And why?

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