This dish alone started me on a quest to cook. I was a regular babysitter for our neighbours through my teen years and one evening I was babysitting plus helping to put all the food together for a dinner party they were throwing. And this dish was on the menu. It was from a Vogue Entertaining magazine, which I thought was the height of sophistication. I had a scrapbook where I scrawled down this recipe plus a few others like Steamed Vanilla Pudding with Caramel Apples and Sabayon – never made that but maybe I should, the recipe calls for Sauternes and I had no idea what that was. I’m a little older and wiser but still no Sauternes in my drinks cabinet.
This recipe however, I have made many, many times. It is a winner because you can make it the day before. Throw the chicken breasts in a big dish with almost everything, cover and refrigerate. You don’t need to do anything until 40 minutes before dinner. Then you just sprinkle the brown sugar, pour over the white wine and bake. The house smells devine. Kids seem to like this too as it is has a bit of sweetness to it.
I hadn’t made this for a long time and I just made it over the weekend and as soon I opened the oven door I thought why have I not made this more. It smells just so good and tastes even better. This is the ultimate recipe for entertaining as it can feed a multitude and all be done well ahead of time. I will vary how many chicken breasts I put in depending on how many for dinner and generally I will cut them in half at a bit of an angle.
Some friends of ours who have been living in Canada for several years took one whiff of the Mediterranean Chicken and exclaimed ‘Chicken Marbella!!!”. As it turns out, yes there are recipes out there for Chicken Marbella that are almost the same, just the quantities vary ever so slightly. I have no idea where the recipe originates from but it would seem it is quite popular.
Serve with some couscous and a simple green salad. I like to cook the couscous in some good chicken stock and spike it with toasted slivered almonds and chopped spring onions. Maybe a little lemon zest and a good grinding of fresh black pepper.
8 – 10 skinless chicken breasts, cut into half on an angle
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and pepper
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups pitted prunes, chopped
3/4 cup dried apricot, chopped
3/4 cup green olive, chopped
1/2 cup salted capers, rinsed
4 bay leaves
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups white wine
Arrange chicken pieces in a large baking dish in a single layer. Add all the other ingredients, except the brown sugar and white wine, mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken and pour over the white wine. Bake uncovered for 30 – 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.
Serve with couscous and salad.