Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chicken Marbella



The winter wind is singing her mournful music down my chimney.  I hear it often, usually after the children have been tucked in bed and the house is finally still, quiet.   This is when I write. 

She is courteous enough to hush her howling now and then, allowing me to hear the satisfying "pop" of the large piece of oak as it burns in the fireplace, the creak of the floor as my husband comes near to kiss my cheek and rub my shoulders, the whirr of the ceiling fan as it distributes the fire's warm air. 

My soul inhales this bouquet of night sounds; this soft contrast to a day filled with little boy noises.

I want to nestle down in the pleasant peacefulness and stay here for a while, savoring the gentle hush.  Much like I savored the flavors of our supper tonight.  Even while the boys' eyes bugged incredulously at the stewed plums and olives on their plates.

Chicken Marbella: my favorite winter dish.  Chicken marinated in red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, prunes, olives, capers, bay leaves, and oregano; baked after being sprinkled with brown sugar and drizzled with white wine.

A redolent bouquet of winter flavors.

(Here's the printable recipe.)

Chicken Marbella
Serves 4

4 leg quarters, with skin (about 3.5 pounds total)*
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a generous sprinkling of pepper---about 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives (pimento-stuffed is fine...)
1/4 cup capers with a bit of juice (optional)
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine
Small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped for garnish

In a large bowl or 13" x 9" baking dish, combine chicken, garlic, oregano, pepper and salt, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers, and bay leaves.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate, refrigerated, overnight.  Turn chicken once if not completely submerged.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Arrange chicken in a single layer in a large baking dish.  Spoon the marinade over any exposed chicken.  Sprinkle with the brown sugar and then pour the wine around the chicken.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with the pan juices.  Test the chicken to ensure doneness by pricking meat at the thickest point.   Juices should run clear-yellowish, not pink. 

Transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers, if using, to a platter.  Moisten meat with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with the fresh parsley.  Pass the remaining juices in a sauceboat, if desired.

*This dish can also be made with 4 large chicken breasts, which, while they are less flavorful, are much easier (and neater) to eat than the leg quarters.  Cover the baking dish with foil for the first 30 minutes and baste very frequently, as the chicken breasts will dry out much more quickly than the leg quarters with skin.


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Wow! This looks Superb!

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