This Paleo Chicken Marbella recipe uses dried dates instead of brown sugar. The result is an impressive make-ahead entrée that is good enough for guests!
I first heard of Chicken Marbella from my Aunt Michelle, who is a phenomenally good cook. My husband and I had just purchased our first home and we were having two couples over for dinner. One guest did not eat red meat and one guest did not eat seafood. I called Aunt Michelle and asked her for a chicken recipe that I could serve to company and she said, “How about Chicken Marbella from the Silver Palate Cook Book?”
The originally recipe is fantastic, but it calls for one cup of packed brown sugar, and that’s a lot of empty calories. I replace the brown sugar with 9 medjool dates. Not only does this nearly halve the sugar content, but the dates also contain fiber and nutrients such as: potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium, B-6, iron, and calcium. If you are really watching your carbs, you could leave out the dates altogether, but I think the three or four grams (per serving) of unprocessed sugar is worth it for this dish.
I love this using this recipe for company because most of the prep work can be done a day in advance. I have even frozen the chicken in the marinade, and it is still fantastic!
You can follow my step-by-step instructions with photos here, or just scroll down to the recipe below.
Place pitted dates in a microwavable container and cover with one cup of water. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, then let stand for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile peel garlic cloves. Strain the soaking liquid from dates, and reserve. In a mini food processor, pulse together the dates and garlic.
Add approximately ¼ cup of liquid the soaking liquid a bit at a time, and pulse until a paste-like consistency is achieved.
Add oregano, vinegar, olive oil, and kosher salt to the processor and pulse until combined.
Empty contents into a large bowl. Stir in prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves.
For my recipe I used two packages of organic chicken parts with bones and skin, but you could quarter two small chickens if you prefer. I like to chop the chicken breasts into more manageable pieces, halves or thirds depending on the size of your chicken. Wash and pat dry the chicken pieces, then salt and pepper to taste.
Add chicken to the bowl with the marinade and toss to combine. Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
Arrange chicken in a single layer into two large, shallow baking pans (or one pan if you are halving the recipe). Spoon marinade over the chicken evenly. Pour white wine around the chicken, being careful to not wash away the marinade on the tops of the chicken.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour in a 350 degree oven. Baste every 15 minutes or so, with pan juices. In the last ten minutes of baking, I like to drain and reserve most of the pan juices, and baste the chicken one last time. This helps the skin to get crispy and brown.
Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (not pink) juice.
With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Discard bay leaves. Sprinkle generously with parsley, and serve with the pan juices in a gravy boat on the side.
I love this served with roasted asparagus and roasted acorn squash, yum!
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I love adding a whole, unprocessed and healthy twist to classic recipes. My food is often grain-free, usually gluten-free, and always unprocessed.