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Chicken Marbella is what you might call a modern classic, made famous in Sheila Lukins’  Silver Palate Cookbook. Seriously, google it.  You’ll find countless missives that describe the recipe much more eloquently than I will. In short this recipe is great because its easy, affordable, unique, and elegant. When Andrew and I decided to have a few friends over for dinner last weekend, I knew this would be the perfect meal to serve.

I’ve actually known about this dish as long as I remember. If a family member or friend was ever sick, injured, or grieving, my mom would always cook a meal for them and their family. Chicken Marbella was (and, for that matter, still is) one of her go-to meals for these occasions. She’d always make a large batch and save some for our family. The dish became affectionately known as “Chicken Miserable”-if we saw Chicken Marbella in the fridge, we knew something was wrong. All jokes aside, there is a reason this recipe worked so well. Although the ingredients are some what unique, it is essentially roast chicken–a classic comfort food. Furthermore, it reheats wonderfully and is even great at room temperature.

I actually don’t own the Silver Palate Cookbook, but you can find the recipe all over the internet. I followed this version. My only change is that I added apricots and forgot the parsley.

To start, gather your ingredients:

I supplemented a whole cut up chicken with a package of chicken thighs.  This served six people with some leftovers. Most stores will sell a cut-up whole chicken, but you could always try it yourself. Here is a great tutorial if you’re feeling hardcore.

The next step is to marinate your chicken with the fruit, olive oil, capers, vinegar, and garlic.

If i had my act together, I would have marinated this over night. I would guess this marinated for about 4 hours and there were no complaints. Once you are about an hour and half away from when you’d like to serve dinner, preheat the oven to 350 and arrange the chicken piece on a shallow baking dish. I used one cookie sheet and one casserole dish, because that is what I have. Distribute the olives, fruit, capers, and remaining marinade evenly. Sprinkle each piece of chicken with brown sugar and pour white wine around chicken pieces.

Bake the chicken for about an hour, basting every 10 minutes or so.

And that’s about all there is to it. It takes about an hour to cook. You can use a meat thermometer to make sure it is done or just cut into a thigh piece–if the juices run clear, you are good to go. I recommend letting the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving. This ensures that the chicken stays nice and juicy.

We made my future mother-in-law’s cucumber and onion salad as an a side dish. To make, slice onions, cucumbers, and green peppers as this as you can. Add a generous amount of salt and let sit for an hour or so. Then mix in a couple tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 cup white (I used white balsamic) vinegar. Her recipe calls for letting it set for a day. I let it sit for about an hour outside of the fridge and the results were delicious.


A cozy dinner for six around our little table:

For dessert, our friend Sean made an amazing apple crisp that he served with vanilla ice cream. I stupidly neglected to take a picture, but I bet I could convince him to make it again if the readers demand it.

One last note, although the recipe is easy, it does involve some time marinading and some tending to in the oven. My mom would sometimes avoid this by putting all the ingredients in a Crock Pot (if you use this approach, sub cut up boneless chicken breasts and thighs for bone-in chicken) and letting it cook for 6 to 8 hours. The results are more stew-like, but the flavors are still there.

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