Are you as tired as I am of the current onslaught of advertising that encourages all of us to do one or more of the following: “Don’t Eat Sugar!! Don’t Eat Fat!! Don’t Eat Carbs!!” or my personal favorite “Drink this magic shake and lose about 20 pounds in two weeks!!” …all hogwash if you ask me, and designed for others to make money at your expense. There is only one way to eat a healthy diet and stick to it as far as I’m concerned, and it amounts to not dieting. Enjoy what you eat, eat in moderation, cook at home more, take some time to learn what’s good for you. Lean protein, lean dairy, healthy carbs and plenty of fruits and vegetables are the key. Allow yourself a splurge now and then, and stop staring at the scale. Get exercise – it will help your mind as well as your body, and above all – have fun every day. In the spirit of healthy eating without suffering, I give you my rendition of Chicken Marbella.
The original Chicken Marbella recipe was created by Sheila Lukins and Julie Russo, two of my favorite cookbook authors. Here is my version of their recipe – chicken marinated in brown sugar and wine (I threw some brandy in also as if you couldn’t guess), with capers, garlic, olives, and a whole lot of dried plums and apricots.. The easy part is that the chicken is baked right in the marinade, so none of that good stuff goes to waste. The dried plums almost melt into the sauce, so you get that addictive combination of sweet, savory, and deep richness. I’ve added a Turmeric Rice Pilaf, because you really will want something to soak up all of that beautiful marinade. The addition of just a touch of turmeric makes the rice a beautiful golden color. Let’s hop on over to the blog and I’ll show you what a snap it is to put together!
We’ll start with the marinade. This is so cool because it all comes together in one bowl. Check this out – olive oil, wine, brown sugar, brandy (not essential but really nice), capers, scallions, a whole pile of dried herbs, dried plums and apricots, and some sliced Meyer lemon for brightness. Now all you need to do is pour it on the chicken, marinate for a couple of hours or overnight if you’d rather, and you are good to go.
When you’re ready to get the show on the road, just take those bay leaves out of there (eating them is very dangerous so don’t try it) and pop this guy in the oven. While the Marbella is baking, get going on your Turmeric Rice Pilaf which is also super simple. Sauté some Jasmine rice in olive oil, add some chicken broth and when it’s almost done, drop in a touch of turmeric. Turmeric is a current buzz word because it is a super healthy dried root, but we aren’t using enough to change the world. Just a little bit adds a beautiful golden color to the rice. Dinner for more than one? It’s fun to lay the rice on a platter and spoon the chicken and sauce over the top. A little extra fresh lemon is also nice to add just a hit of brightness.
For dinner for one, or if everybody wants to serve themselves, all can be piled up on individual plates – your choice.
I hope you enjoy this one – it’s one of my personal favorites. Happy new year everyone…and happy, healthy eating! Thanks so much for reading today. xoxoxo
- FOR THE CHICKEN MARBELLA
- About 3 ½ pounds of boneless skinless chicken pieces (cut chicken breasts in half or in thirds if they’re huge)
- ½ cup Olive Oil
- ½ cup Fig Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- 1 cup White Wine
- ¼ cup brandy (optional but really good if I do say so myself)
- 6 cloves of Garlic, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup dried herb combination of your choice (I like oregano, marjoram, and thyme combined. I shy away from dried basil because it’s usually so dull and doesn’t taste anything like real basil)
- 6 Bay Leaves
- 6 green onions, sliced on the bias
- 2 Meyer lemons or one regular lemon, sliced
- 2 cups dried Plums, halved
- 1 cup dried apricots, halved
- 1 cup pitted Green Olives, halved
- ½ cup Capers
- Plenty of Salt and Pepper to taste – start with a good teaspoon of salt, then taste your marinade to see if you don’t need a tad more.
- FOR THE TURMERIC RICE PILAF
- 1 cup Jasmine rice
- 2-3 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ -3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ - 3 cups chicken broth
- Approximately ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons butter (optional)
- FOR THE CHICKEN MARBELLA
- In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the Marbella recipe except the chicken. Mix well and taste to make sure the flavors are balanced to your liking.
- Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange the chicken pieces in the dish, and pour the marinade over the top. Smoosh everything around to make sure your marinade covers all the chicken evenly.
- Allow to marinate for two hours or overnight.
- When ready to bake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove bay leaves from the chicken marinade because accidentally eating one of those is a very, very bad thing. Bake chicken until done (breasts register 165 degrees and thighs register about 175. This will take approximately 45 minutes.
- Serve immediately over Turmeric Rice Pilaf, OR Chicken Marbella is also excellent served at room temperature, but be sure to follow food safety guidelines and only allow this dish to sit out for two hours at room temperature.
- FOR THE TURMERIC RICE PILAF
- Heat a skillet over medium heat with the olive oil added until the oil is hot, but not smoking.
- Stir in the rice and cook until rice becomes translucent – stir often. It will smell kind of like popcorn when it’s ready.
- Pour in the chicken broth and add the salt. Stir to combine.
- Cover the skillet and cook over medium heat until almost all of the chicken broth is absorbed.
- Stir in the turmeric. Is it the yellow color you like? Or do you want to add more? Be careful! A little turmeric goes a long way, and I don’t want you to end up with florescent rice.
- When all of the liquid has been absorbed, turn off the heat and allow the rice to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- PS. Sometimes I add a little more broth in at this time if things look a little dry – I also like to sneak in a couple of teaspoons of butter right about now, just to add to the richness factor.