Makes 6 Servings
These ingredients may seem to represent what your Mediterranean great-aunt would find if she cleaned out her fridge and pantry, but in fact the combination is more deliberate than that. The brine of the olives, the pungency of the vinegar, the sweetness of the dates, and the richness of the olive oil come together to make a fantastic, impressive chicken dish. This produces a lot of sauce, too, so find a makeshift gravy boat (a bowl or glass) and be sure everyone gets to try some. Great accompaniments include orzo tossed with butter and minced parsley, plain rice, or good crusty bread.
1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 dried dates, pitted and chopped (about 1⁄4 cup)
3 tablespoons chopped pitted Kalamata olives
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons garlic, crushed, minced with 1 teaspoon salt
11⁄2 teaspoons dried oregano, or 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, preferably organic
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 plum tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1⁄4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (optional)
Note: You can bake the chicken ahead of time and reheat it. After baking, refrigerate the chicken in the pan. Reheat it together with its sauce in a 350°F oven or in a pot over a low flame. (If you do this, you’ll also get a chance to skim a bit of the fat of the sauce while it’s cool.)
1. Combine the vinegar, olive oil, dates, olives, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, and black pepper to taste in a large container with a lid. Add the chicken and toss well to coat. Let this sit overnight in the fridge (or at least 6 hours).
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
3. Arrange the chicken in one layer in a casserole dish or baking pan. Pour all the marinade from the container over the chicken. Scatter the onion slices between the chicken pieces, and wedge the tomatoes into crevices around the pan. Sprinkle each piece of chicken with some of the brown sugar; then evenly pour the wine around the dish and over the chicken. Bake for 1 hour, or until the chicken’s juices run clear, the tomatoes are browned, and the onions are soft.
4. Sprinkle the fresh parsley over the chicken, and transfer into a platter if you’re not serving it in the baking dish.
5. Pour the juices from the pan into a small serving bowl and pass this sauce with the chicken.
Reprinted with permission from In the Small Kitchen by Cara Eisenpress, copyright (c) 2011. Published by William Morrow Cookboks.