JESSIE The first time I tried this was at one of many Sunday afternoon gatherings with our friends the Sweeneys. The moment it touched my lips, it was love. This dish gives you everything: the sweet and the sharp, salivating taste buds and the depth of Mediterranean divinity. This recipe was my first foray into confident entertaining (I think all my university friends tired of Marbella Chicken by the third year). It’s a definite crowd-pleaser. I have even won over those irritating people who don’t like sweet and sour flavours together with a plate of this. Everything can be prepped the night before, so you can be the host with the most and assume the title of ‘effortless cook’.
10 boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs (4 breasts, 6 thighs), cut into large chunks (see tip)
8 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp dried oregano or chopped fresh oregano leaves
small bunch of fresh basil, leaves chopped
5 bay leaves
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
2. tbsp capers
about 20 green olives, pitted
10 ready-to-eat dried apricots, cut in half
10 no-soak prunes, cut in half
2 tbsp brown sugar generous handful of red seedless grapes (optional)
250ml dry white wine
salt and pepper
1. Put the chicken into a large sealable plastic bag or a container with a tight-fitting lid, together with the garlic, herbs, vinegar, olive oil, capers, olives, apricots and prunes. Leave in the fridge to marinate overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
3. Tip the chicken and its marinade into a roasting tin. Sprinkle over the brown sugar and add the grapes, if using. Pour the white wine around the chicken mixture and bake for 50 minutes.
4. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Leave to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. I like to dish this up with rice that’s had some green pesto stirred through it.
TIP You can use all thighs, which are more moist, or all breast pieces – in which case cook for a slightly shorter time to avoid dryness. Alternatively, use only skin-on bone-in thighs, which may need a slightly longer cooking time.