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Making Chicken Marbella for the first time - ? about time/temp

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I've never had this dish but am making it on a friend's recommendation. I've got bone-in thighs marinating now. The recipe calls for an hour at 350. I really dislike soggy chicken skin and am thinking of patting the pieces dry and browning them skin-side down in a saute pan before transferring to a baking dish, then adding the brown sugar and wine plus the marinade. I am not after a crisp skin, just well-rendered and brown. Any other suggestions?

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  1. The beauty of this dish is that it requires no browning or other prep after marinating but yes, you end up with pretty much soggy skin. One way to minimize that is to make sure the baking pan is large enough to leave plenty of room between the pieces of chickenand baste with the liquid as it cooks. You can also pre-brown as you describe but I suspect you'll still end up with slightly soggy skin because the dish is more a braise than a roast and the liquid keeps everything moist.

    I just made it on Friday. Adjusted the recipe to use apricots instead of prunes and used about half as much wine so that the chicken wasn't immersed in liquid. The skin was soggy but the chicken was delicious.

    1. I've never prepared this dish but, when I read the various recipes, I find myself wondering why skinless chicken pieces wouldn't work. They're coated with brown sugar and the little fat that remains in/on the chicken pieces should be enough fat to carry the melted sugar coating. Just a thought ...
      Thanks for the lead on a new culinary experience. I'm gonna have to try this one.

      1. I have made this with skinless, it worked fine. I sure lost some flavor, but still amazing. I hate soggy skin too.

        I worked, I prefer skin on for flavor, but without he skin was still very good very very good.

        1. I have made this recipe many times, and the flavor of the chicken outweighs the sogginess of the skin IMHO. I use dried sour cherries instead of prunes, but prunes and apricots also work well. It is a great recipe for dinner parties and large family dinners when you have to work and don't have much prep time before your guests come over.

          4 Replies
          1. re: veggielover

            Right - and I forgot to mention I drastically reduced the brown sugar to, at most, 1/4 cup. If that. I prefer a less sweet dish. Oh and I increased the temp to 375 because I wanted to roast potatoes and asparagus at the same time. I think there's plenty of leeway in a dish like this.

            This was for a big family dinner - 17 of us - and I had to do all the cooking. Everyone loved it and I laughed when a cousin told me she always makes it for big family dinners also!

            1. re: Nyleve

              Yes, I was thinking 375. I am only making a partial recipe, with 2 pounds of thighs, and will use a spacious pan but I do intend to use the saute pan on the skin side. Next time I'll try skinless, or maybe cut away most of the skin and just keep a little on top.

              1. re: greygarious

                Reporting back....because my electric cooktop range isn't great on heat control, I let the marinating thighs sit at room temp for an hour before drying and pan-browning the skin side in a slightly-oiled nonstick pan. I wanted to render, not sear, and med-high heat accomplished this without scorching. When they were a nice medium-brown, I transferred the 6 bone-in thighs to a 9x13 pyrex baking dish. Each thigh was a good inch away from the sides of the pan and from the neighboring thigh. I spread the marinade ingredients around and between the thighs, not on top. Also, I had added some sliced onion to the marinade. This increased the volume of the marinade and the onions exude liquid as they bake.
                I used a modest sprinkling of brown sugar and extra wine plus a little water, since the dish was so large, poured around the meat rather than over it. I had deglazed the saute pan with the liquid. I used a 375 oven and basted halfway through. It took an hour for the skin to become a deep mahogany brown and the juices reduced to the right concentration. I tasted the sauce, which is excellent, but won't eat for another 4 hours. However, the skin is definitely well-rendered so even if it is soggy later on, it will have a lot of flavor and no rubbery chewiness.

                This is only enough for 3 portions. So if I wanted it as a company dish, unless I made it in batches or rotated multiple pans from upper and lower racks, it would have to be a very small party! A standard size oven can't fit more than 2 such pans side-by-side.

                1. re: greygarious

                  Man, what a good dinner! Glad I used thighs - skin on one side only, and can take more heat than breasts without getting leathery, Brown rice cooked in water I'd used to steam asparagus, plus bacon fat and dried mushrooms tossed into the rice while it cooked. The chicken skin was the best part - thoroughly rendered. This may be the best chicken dish I've ever had.