The key to a good marinade is that it serves two purposes: one is to add dimension of flavor and the other is to help tenderize a piece of meat. When it comes to chicken, this is the one marinade in particular that I believe beats all others. I first had it at a friend’s house and I needed to know what it was. It happened to be Chicken Marbella from “The Silver Palate Cookbook.” This is a dish that is briny and rich but has mellow and consistent notes of sweetness from the dried fruit. What makes my version different is the addition of a few minor ingredients as well as one significant ingredient, opting to use breasts instead of thighs (because I’m on a budget and it bakes through faster). Additionally, I use white wine vinegar instead of red, but what makes this marinade so wonderful is that the measurements and details never have to be exact. No matter how you play with it, the vinegar helps break down tough enzymes and the dried fruit soaks through for a rustic sweetness. Each bite is salty and tender, followed by the aroma and hint of both natural and brown sugar. This is a perfect make ahead meal for a crowd, as it requires little preparation time but still looks sophisticated and gourmet. Served with a side of pasta and roasted vegetables, this is a recipe that is sure to please.
-2 lbs. of chicken breast
-1/2 cup of capers, and a little juice
-1/2 cup green olives, diced
-1 cup of pitted + dried prunes
-1 cup of dried apricots, diced
-1/3 cup of pine nuts
-2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-1/3 cup white wine vinegar
-2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
-1 ½ tbsp. balsamic vinegar
-2 tbsp. dried oregano
-Juice of 1 lemon
-5-6 bay leaves
-1/2-2/3 cup of brown sugar (based on your preference)
-1 cup of dry white wine
-2-3 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
-Salt + pepper to taste
1. Combine extra-virgin olive oil, white & balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard in a large baking dish. Whisk together quickly, trying to break up the Dijon as much as possible. Add chicken breasts and pour over remaining ingredients except for the brown sugar, white wine and parsley. Using a fork, try to mix everything together, flipping each breast once or twice, trying to make sure each one is coated heavily, finishing with a coating of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight.
2. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Sprinkle brown sugar and pour white wine over chicken.
4. Bake 25-30 minutes, basting once in between, until chicken is cooked through.
5. Serve warm or at room temperature with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.