This delicious chicken dish is beloved by many of us here in Australia, but was actually created in the Silver Palate food store, which opened on New York's Manhattan Upper West Side 35 years ago. The store was started by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, who cooked fresh each day, embracing a passion for simple good food. That is still the commitment of the Silver Palate Kitchens today. I make this dish quite regularly, and always have the bottled ingredients on hand in my pantry and cellar, just in case.
This is an uncomplicated recipe, which has you in and out of the kitchen in no time, but brings maximum flavours to your dining table. It is a great recipe for people who either don't have much time to prepare and cook or who don't consider themselves to be great cooks. It is a simple matter of mixing most of the ingredients in a large covered bowl the night before to marinate, and then popping it all with a couple of extra ingredients in the oven the following day or evening 50 minutes before it is to be eaten. We all need uncomplicated recipes like this in our repertoire, which still deliver magnificent flavours.
This recipe has become famous and a firm favourite with many, standing the test of time because of the distinctive Mediterranean flavours and colours of the prunes, olives and capers. It is very versatile, allowing it to be cooked in the slow cooker, the oven, or eaten as a leftover cold dish, or even as an appetiser. I promise you this is a cinch to make, and never disappoints, however please don't scrimp on the prunes, the olives or the capers and choose a nice white wine to add, and then drink the rest.
This dish reminds me of the famous Aristotle Quotation 2370 years ago: " The whole is greater than the sum of the parts".
16 chicken thighs or mixed chicken portions, to feed 8 people,
(Or buy a whole chicken and chop it up into portions, a cheaper option) Approx 1 1/4 kilos or 2 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces (Allow at least two chicken pieces per person.)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves, or ideally use fresh equivalent if you are growing it
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup good quality dry white wine or chicken broth
1/4 cup or 2 tablespoons of good quality red wine vinegar
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/2 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup roasted bell peppers drained, and coarsely chopped (this is an optional addition to the original classic recipe)
1/4 cup or 2 tablespoons capers, with a little bit of juice
1/4 cup or 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped for garnish
Marinate the chicken:
- In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic, and vinegar. (All the ingredients except the wine and the brown sugar.) Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight to marinate until you are ready to cook.
- Preheat the oven to 180 deg. C. or 350 deg. F.
- Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a shallow baking dish and spoon the remaining marinade over it evenly. Pour the white wine over the chicken pieces, and sprinkle the chicken pieces with the brown sugar.
- Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting the chicken pieces frequently with the pan juices, until cooked.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Pour over enough pan juices to serve, and sprinkle generously with parsley. Any extra pan juices can be passed around in a sauce boat. Or for serving you can adopt the rustic approach which I quite like, and bring the baking dish straight from the oven to the table and serve from the dish.
- Serve with couscous or brown rice or a selection of salad and fresh vegetables.