I Only Have Eyes For Chicken Thighs

I never really gave chicken thighs much thought until I met David. They were his favorite you see, and all the sudden I had to deal with them every time we cooked together. His fridge was always full of them; then when we lived together our fridge (and freezer too) always had a stash of chicken thighs in it. I used to groan at the thought of having to cook and eat chicken thighs again, but about a year ago now I started to realize that I really loved them. Now there is no other part of the chicken I would rather eat, and I always have some stashed in my freezer. Just to clarify things, when I talk about chicken thighs I’m talking about the bone-in skin-on kind of chicken thighs, although now and then boneless and skinless chicken thighs are fine, especially if you want to stuff them. Chicken thighs are so forgiving to cook; it’s near impossible to overcook them, and their dark meat is always soft and rich. Plop them in a baking dish with some wine and some spices and you’ve got yourself a feast. But my very favorite way to eat them takes a bit more time- in fact it requires overnight marination. The Silver Palate Cookbook is one of my favorite cookbooks for everyday dinners, and in it is a (quiet famous) recipe for cooking whole quartered chickens: Chicken Marbella. I like to use this same recipe for cooking my chicken thighs, and my oh my is it good. Not counting the chicken thighs and their crackling browned skin, my favorite part about this dish is the sweet cooked prunes, so I often throw in some extra prunes just for fun. Recently I’ve been making a modified version of this to serve just myself by using three chicken thighs and only marinating it for about an hour and cutting the marinade ingredients by about a quarter.

Chicken Marbella

serves 6

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
12 chicken thighs (bone in, skin on) 
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup Italian parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped

In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, and oregano. 

Add the chicken and stir to coat. 
Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. 
Sprinkle chicken thighs with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. 
Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken thighs, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. 
Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. 
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