This recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Simple. I have cooked a few things from the book and I am impressed. I came rather reluctantly to this book, because, as the owner of a few Ottolenghi cook books, I couldn’t quite see why this one could add any more to my Ottolenghi repertoire. Of course, once I perused the book, I saw that he had pared down recipes to a “simple” version that were eminently do-able and easy/quick to prepare.
So apologies to the Architect, Doctor R and the Roadrunner if I was dubious about your recommendations!
What I love about this recipe is the way Ottolenghi has taken a classic dish from The Silver Palate, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, written in the eighties, and given it an update. I am a devotee of The Silver Palate recipes, and I have included here a photo of the original Chicken Marbella recipe from my much thumbed copy of the famous cookbook!
My recipe is to all intents and purposes that of Ottolenghi. However, the original Silver Palate recipe uses prunes instead of dates. I love prunes – so I used both. You can use either or both – they each give a jammy sweetness to the finished dish. I used thyme rather than oregano, and stuffed olives rather than plain green olives. This latter harks back to childhood memories of grown up parties at home where pimento stuffed olives were always served!
8 chicken legs, drumstick and thigh attached, skin on and scored 3 or 4 times to the bone – about 2kg
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
15g fresh oregano or thyme, picked, plus extra to serve
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
100g pitted green olives or stuffed green olives
60g capers, plus 2 tbsp of their juices
60g dates, pitted and quartered lengthways
60g prunes, halved
2 bay leaves
120ml dry white wine
1 tbsp date molasses
salt and black pepper
Place the chicken in a large, non-reactive bowl and add all of the ingredients, apart from the wine and date molasses, along with ¾ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Gently mix everything together, cover the bowl and leave in the fridge to marinate for 1 to 2 days, stirring the ingredients a few times during the process.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Spread out the chicken legs on a large baking tray, along with all the marinade ingredients. Whisk together the wine and molasses and pour over the meat. Place in the oven and cook for 50 minutes, basting 2 or 3 times, until the meat is golden brown on top and cooked through.
Remove from the oven, transfer everything to a large platter, sprinkle over some freshly picked oregano or thyme leaves.
Serve with couscous, polenta or rice, and a green salad.