Roast chicken with dates, olives and capers

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken legs, drumstick and thigh attached, skin on (2kg net)
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 15g fresh oregano, torn, plus extra for garnish
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar 
  • 3 tbsp olive oil 
  • 100g pitted green olives
  • 60g capers, plus 2 tbsp of their juices
  • 70g , pitted and quartered lengthways Medjoul dates 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 120ml dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp date syrup or treacle
  • Salt and black pepper
Roast chicken with dates, olives and capers
    Serves four

The Silver Palate, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, is one of the best cookbooks I know and a classic of the 1980s, listing recipes from the first modern quality take-out food shop in New York. Many of the dishes in the book have become legendary. One of them, Chicken Marbella, is the inspiration for this recipe. The chicken needs marinading for at least a day, preferably two, to soften and flavour properly; I wouldn't cut corners here.

  1. Place the chicken in a large, non-reactive bowl and add all of the ingredients, apart from the wine and date molasses, along with ¾ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Gently mix everything together, cover the bowl and leave in the fridge to marinate for 1 to 2 days, stirring the ingredients a few times during the process.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  3. Spread out the chicken legs on a large baking tray, along with all the marinade ingredients. Whisk together the wine and molasses and pour over the meat. Place in the oven and cook for 50 minutes, basting 2 or 3 times, until the meat is golden brown on top and cooked through.
  4. Remove from the oven, transfer everything to a large platter, sprinkle over some freshly picked oregano leaves and serve.