I’m very fond of recipes where the chicken or meat is added to a marinade for a few hours or overnight, then the whole lot is roasted together with minimum fuss.
This is one of those; a particular favorite that originally came from ‘The Silver Palate Cookbook’ and one that I’ve tweaked by replacing the red wine vinegar and white wine with sherry vinegar and Amontillado (dry) sherry. I think it creates a more aromatic result but it’s very good either way if you have the one and can’t be bothered to shop for the other.
The combination of prunes (or dried plums, if you prefer), olives, capers and garlic, results in a wonderfully rich and complex dish that’s just as good served cold, making it perfect for feeding a crowd – but bring it back to room temp before serving if you make it a day or two ahead. It will definitely improve after 24 hrs in the fridge but as its very good eaten straight from the oven, it’s versatile.
You can use any combination of chicken pieces but be sure they’re cut into fairly equal sizes. As always, my preferred joint is the thigh but don’t let that stop you if you prefer chicken breast – they all work beautifully in this dish. Drumsticks might be better for picnic food.
The proportions here will feed a small crowd so reduce the quantities as needed.
CHICKEN with OLIVES, PRUNES & SHERRY
5lbs (2.3k) of chicken pieces, on the bone
For the marinade:
1 whole head of garlic, peeled and crushed
4 tablespoons of dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (118ml) of sherry vinegar
½ cup (118ml) of olive oil
1 cup (237ml measure) of pitted prunes
½ cup (118ml) of pitted black or green olives (but not those tasteless things from a can)
½ cup (118ml) of capers with a tablespoon of their juice
6 dried bay leaves
Just before roasting, add:
1 cup (237ml measure) of soft brown sugar
1 cup (237ml) of dry sherry
A good handful of chopped flat leaf parsley to serve
Combine all the marinade ingredients and chicken portions in a bowl; cover and refrigerate for 8 hrs or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer, skin side up in one or two roasting pans. Pour all the marinade ingredients over the chicken then sprinkle soft brown sugar over the pieces. Pour the sherry around the chicken.
Roast for 45-60 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken joints), basting with the pan juices every 15 minutes or so; check for done-ness by piercing any thigh piece with a skewer – the juices should run clear when it’s done.
Transfer the chicken to a warmed serving dish with all the prunes, olives and capers scattered around – add some of the pan juices to moisten the chicken and a good sprinkle of chopped parsley over everything to serve.
Otherwise cool it to room temp before adding the parsley if you plan on eating it just slightly warm – or, cover and chill for one or two days. Bring everything back to room temp before serving and make sure you have extra pan juices to pour over as needed.