Friday, February 26, 2016

Chicken Marbella

I guess I partially owe my son Jack the credit for this family-favorite chicken recipe. It joined our family about the same time that he did. Just a few short weeks after, actually, during those heavenly post-delivery days when we stumbled about bleary-eyed (ok so that part wasn't heavenly) while those around us took care of dinner (HEAVEN!!) I've said it before and I'll say it again: I LOVE RECEIVING MEALS. Sometimes I consider adding members to our family simply to get another round of meals going. Food is my love language - both the giving and receiving of it and a yummy warm meal speaks measures to me.
The real credit for this one goes to my friend Katie who introduced us to Chicken Marbella in the form of a meal delivery for the very first time. She and I met at our church's Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group and I always looked up to her. We had an awesome table of ladies that year and we all spent a lot of time laughing but I felt especially drawn to Katie. She was vulnerable and shared the challenges of life and mothering in a way that really drew me in. I'm sure she will laugh when she reads this because I'm sure she, like the rest of us, will say she wasn't feeling her very best in the early throes of motherhood. But her honesty and transparency was something I greatly admired and I wanted to be just like her.
I was still struggling immensely with insecurity in friendships at this point in my life and had become quite the expert at keeping others at an arm's length. I never felt good enough or cool enough or stylish enough to be friends with awesome people like Katie. (Katie, I can hear you laughing). So you can imagine my delight when, at the end of that MOPS year, Katie invited me to her 30th birthday party. At HER HOUSE! And let me tell you, her list of invitees was straight up cool kids - no question about it. I wasn't sure why I was on that list but you'd better believe I went, feeling totally unworthy and shaking in my boots. But heck yes, I showed up. I had been invited in and it felt amazing.
I looked up to Katie for a lot of practical reasons too. She had two older boys, each just a few months senior to my girls. She had knowledge and experience and I felt a lot of "yeah me toos" when we talked together. And then she welcomed a third baby, a girl, into her family. She was my first friend to have three kids. And she survived. It gave me hope that I could have three children and survive somehow too.
We couldn't have lived farther than each other - at the time, Katie lived all the way in Ballard and I was nearly an hour's drive away in my condo in Kirkland. Seeing each other did not happen without some intentional effort but we made it happen on occasion even after MOPS came to an end. When Jack joined our family in the Fall, Katie immediately signed up to bring us a meal and her delivery touched me more than most, partly due to the distance I knew she had to drive to make it happen. And then, not only did she arrive with dinner, but she also brought me lunch to eat right then and there AND two huge tubs of boy clothes for Jack to wear as he grew.
Katie, I don't know if I ever sent you a thank you note. Forgive me. I remember very little of those days and weeks following Jack's birth. But I DO remember your meal and I DO remember your visit. So...better late than never, THANK YOU for your delivery that day. It touched me in more ways that you can imagine. :)
When I told my husband what I was writing about today, he exclaimed "That's my favorite chicken recipe!" and it's probably the favorite of everyone else in this house as well. It always smells so amazing and the finished product is company-worthy. My picture doesn't do it justice - there are tons of colorful prunes and olives in there (I increased their amounts because I like it that way). Don't let the prunes scare you if you aren't typically a big fan. They really do make the dish - so tender and sweet next to the savory briny punch of the olives. In addition to being a great option for bringing to others, this meal is an excellent make-ahead option. Prepare the chicken in the marinate and leave it overnight to absorb all the flavors. An hour before you are ready to eat, pop it in the oven and it's as easy as that. 
Chicken Marbella
(adapted from, thanks to my friend Katie)
5 pounds of skin-on chicken thighs and drums
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons dried oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
16 large pitted Spanish olives, halved
1/4 cup capers plus 2 Tablespoons caper juice
3 bay leaves
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
In a large bowl or gallon-sized zip-lock bag, combine garlic, oregano, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Add chicken and salt and pepper to taste and let marinate in the refrigerator several hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour chicken and marinade into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish along with white wine. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting occasionally with juices from pan until chicken is cooked through (165 degrees F). Remove from oven and serve.
Serves 6

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posted by kelsie