I’m not sure what’s going on with the relationship between me and Heavy D. We’re having a bit of a rough patch right now. On the surface, everything seems fine. Heck, I just recently outfitted him with a one of a kind, made lovingly with my own two hands, camera strap cover. If four hours of my time on a freaking accessory doesn’t say I’m committed to our relationship, then I don’t know what does.
But despite all my sweet talk and handiwork, Heavy D and I are having communication issues. I’ll focus him on a shot, hit the shutter, and then be horribly disappointed when I upload the images. Right now my pictures seem plagued by wonky focus. What I see in living color, what Heavy D shows me, and what I see on my computer screen are vastly different things.
And then there is the issue that no matter how good some dishes might taste, I can’t photograph them to save my life. I’m not a food stylist (among other things), so I don’t have an arsenal of tricks up my sleeve to make everything look pretty. Sure, these dishes may have the food equivalent of a “great personality” or “inner beauty”, but like Beth @ 990 Square says of the Chicken with Rice Soup, it “does look a bit like cat food. Delicious cat food.” I can’t blame this on any struggles Heavy D and I might be having. But it doesn’t make our relationship any easier either.
Ask for the impossible and then be disappointed because you didn’t get it? I’m not a therapist (see, many things are on that list), but I imagine that they see relationships fail on this one issue as much as anything else. Sometimes I try to force the issue, asking Heavy D to give me a miracle. And other times I keep those unrealistic expectations in check and just troll the Interwebs for an image.
Like that one up there. Because I failed to coax Chicken Marbella into showing some outer beauty. But it is full of “great personality”. So you shouldn’t let my lack of food styling skills keep you from getting acquainted with Marbella. Because a leap of faith on your part will be rewarded with a dish that could easily become a weekly staple. I made this on a Saturday thinking that I’d serve it on Sunday. Sunday turned into Thursday before Marbella got reheated and plated. And can I tell you, that was the easiest Thursday night dinner I’ve made in a while.
It went like this: heat oven to 350, place dish in oven, return to the front porch to read a chapter or two in the book of the moment. 40 minutes later, or whenever The Mistah got in from work, dinner was done and I barely lifted a finger. Even if you prepare some rice or couscous to serve with Marbella, as you should, that’s a cinch.
Sadly, Heavy D is immune to any attempts at wooing with food. Although if you call on my friend Google and ask him about Chicken Marbella, he’ll show you lots of examples of people who either ARE food stylists or can coax a miracle out of their cameras.
Adapted from this recipe in Baltimore Style Magazine, which attributes it to The Silver Palate Cookbook
BAH Note: The recipe in BSM calls for 5 pounds of chicken. If you’ve got enough mouths to feed, or really like leftovers, use 5 pounds. I had four chicken thighs in the freezer so that’s what I used. I don’t recommend trying to scale down the marinade though since it was just enough sauce even with only four pieces of chicken in my dish. I do recommend that you remove the skin before you cook the chicken AND skim the fat out of sauce before you serve. This dish can easily be cooked days in advance, refrigerated, and reheated in a 350 degree oven for serving.
BAH Tip: If you are not olive adverse, as I am, use 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives and 1/2 cup capers. You can also add 2 to 4 cloves garlic (whole or minced) to the marinade for a little extra “personality”.
- 4 to 8 pieces bone in chicken thighs, skin removed
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup pitted prunes
- 1 jar capers, drained
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white wine
Combine the vinegar and olive oil in a measuring cup and use a small whisk to combine. Place the chicken, oregano, prunes, capers, bay leaves, garlic and olives (if using) in a large ziploc bag. Add the vinegar and oil to the bag, seal, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and place the chicken in a single layer in one (or two, depending on how much chicken you have) baking dishes. Add the marinade and wine to the dish and sprinkle with brown sugar.
Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until done, occasionally basting the chicken with the pan juices.
Transfer the chicken, prunes, and capers/olives to a serving platter. Let the pan juices settle and then skim most of the fat from it before seasoning to taste with salt and pepper and adding the juices back to the chicken or putting them in a gravy boat to pass at the table.