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Grilled Chicken Marbella

Emily Connor
Cook Time:
15 mins
Prep Time:
2 hrs
Servings:
8
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(30)

Chef notes

This grilled main is my summertime riff on Chicken Marbella, the classic dinner party staple from The Silver Palette Cookbook. The original recipe calls for marinating quartered chickens overnight in a combination of red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, olives and prunes, then braising them in the oven with brown sugar and white wine until tender and aromatic. It’s simple, mostly hands-off and intensely flavorful — ideal dinner party fare — but it requires forethought and about an hour of oven time, more fitting for a cold, winter’s evening than a hot, sticky summer night.

That’s why I came up with this reimagined version that’s ready for impromptu summer get-togethers. I swapped the quartered chicken for quick-cooking boneless thighs, ditched the oven for the grill, brightened up the flavors of the marinade (fresh lemon and herbs are always a good call) and used dried figs instead of prunes. And since I didn’t want to forgo the briny-sweet sauce (arguably the best part of the original dish!), I soaked the chicken a second time — after grilling — in more of the marinade to build layers of flavor. To finish the dish, I showered crushed Castelvetrano olives and lots of fresh parsley on top.

The result is deeply savory grilled chicken with a bright, tangy sauce that should be sopped up with grilled bread or pasta. Don’t get me wrong: I’ll turn to the classic braised dish on cold days when I want my oven to warm my kitchen. But in the summer months, I’ll be making this grilled rendition on repeat.

Swap Option: I like dried figs for this dish, but feel free to use traditional prunes or another variety of dried fruit such as raisins, dried cherries or apricots. The key is to let them macerate in the dressing that you’ll use as your post-grill marinade so they’ll soften and gently pickle. 

Technique Tip: If using bone-in, skin-on chicken for this recipe, increase the marinating time to 6 to 8 hours (or overnight) for best results.

 

 

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup capers, coarsely chopped
  • 3 teaspoons caper brine
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3½ to 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 6 to 8 dried figs, halved or quartered depending on size
  • 1 cup pitted Castraveltrano olives, smashed
  • 1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
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Preparation

1.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, honey, oregano, garlic, capers and brine, salt and pepper. Combine 1 cup of marinade with the chicken in another bowl or plastic zip-top bag, turning to evenly coat. Cover and refrigerate the chicken for 2 to 4 hours. Reserve the remaining marinade

2.

Add the figs to the reserved marinade and stir to combine. Cover and let the figs macerate at room temperature while the chicken is marinating.

3.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill and heat to medium-high. Brush your grates clean, then lightly oil them.

4.

Remove chicken from the marinade (discarding any that’s left in the bowl). Grill until golden brown and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 160 to 165 F.

5.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and immediately spoon the reserved marinade and figs over the chicken. Top with crushed olives and parsley, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.