Jessie and Lennie Ware's Marbella Chicken
The first time I tried this was at one of many Sunday afternoon gatherings with our friends the Sweeneys. The moment it touched my lips, it was love at first sight. It gives you everything: the sweet and the sharp, salivating taste buds and the depth of Mediterranean divinity. This dish was my first foray into confident entertaining (I think all my university friends tired of Marbella Chicken by the third year). It’s a definite crowd-pleaser. I have even won over those irritating people who don’t like sweet and sour flavours together with a plate of this. Everything can be prepped the night before, so you can be the host with the most and assume the title of an ‘effortless cook’.
|10||boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs (4 breasts, 6 thighs), cut into large chunks (also see tip)|
|8||garlic cloves, finely chopped|
|2 tbsp||dried oregano or chopped fresh oregano leaves|
|small bunch||fresh basil, leaves chopped|
|4 tbsp||red wine vinegar|
|4 tbsp||olive oil|
|about 20||green olives, pitted|
|10||ready-to-eat dried apricots, cut in half|
|10||no-soak prunes, cut in half|
|2 tbsp||brown sugar|
|generous handful||red seedless grapes (optional)|
|250ml||dry white wine|
|salt and pepper|
Put the chicken into a large sealable plastic bag or a container with a tight-fitting lid, together with the garlic, herbs, vinegar, olive oil, capers, olives, apricots and prunes. Leave in the fridge to marinate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 200°/180° fan/gas 6.
Tip the chicken and its marinade into a roasting tin. Sprinkle over the brown sugar and add the grapes, if using. Pour the white wine around the chicken mixture and bake for 50 minutes.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Leave to stand for 5–10 minutes before serving. Serve with rice: we like this with Green Pesto Rice (page 64 of Table Manners: The Cookbook).
Tip: You can use all thighs, which are more moist, or all breast pieces – in which case cook for a slightly shorter time to avoid dryness. Alternatively, use only skin-on bone-in thighs, which may need a slightly longer cooking time.