Vegan Chicken Marbella (Frickin’ Marbella?)

I think that I’m going to take to calling this frickin’ Marbella, which was the suggestion of my co-worker Claire. Go team!

Last month, Ryan and I were blessed enough to enjoy something like 50 different tastes of wine from the Jura region (I counted 24 bottles tasted when I got to the halfway point of switching from red to white, and I hadn’t had the yellow yet) and late that evening, Mike—from The Wine Bottega—started telling Ryan and me about the crazy way in which he came into this awesome vegan mock chicken. He was kind enough to offer me one from his stash, and I was so excited that it took me a while to figure out just what to make.

digression This is the same kind of chicken served at My Thai Vegan Cafe in Chinatown, and I highly recommend the Sweet and Sour Chicken there for some high-quality vegan experience. Their beef dishes are also excellent, especially the spicier curried ones and the Bird’s Nest. If you haven’t been, then go! And remind me to start some restaurant reviews. /digression

I finally settled on my mother’s Chicken Marbella. I remember this dish pretty well from my childhood, although I don’t remember eating an entire serving of it, since the flavours are quite pungent for developing palates, and I stopped eating meat before I started cooking and exploring food.

Her recipe comes from the Silver Palate Cookbook—apparently this was the first entrée recipe that The Silver Palate ever offered. My mother’s recipe is good—she was even on the news when I was six or seven, serving up the recipe on a Cook’s Corner segment that we got up wicked early to watch. Thanks for sending me the recipe, Mommy! This one’s for you.

frickin' vegan chick'n Marbella, all beautiful and delicious

The recipe is given to serve 10-12, but I scaled it down to serve 4 or so. I didn’t scale down most of the ingredients as much as the chicken, since I like a lot of flavour and enjoy the prunes, olives, and capers. Feel free to add a little less of each and play around as you like!

frickin' vegan chick'n Marbella marinade

You’ll need an overnight to marinade this one well. I started marinating mine on New Year’s Eve and didn’t get to cooking it for two nights, so it keeps well, and it’ll be even more delicious this way. You can serve it hot or cold, big pieces as a main meal or small pieces as an hors d’oeuvre (which my Nana refers to as ‘husses ovaries’ in her old-fashioned Boston accent).

I served mine with a wild rice/pilaf mixture from one of those Near East boxes—ironically the ‘chicken’ flavoured one was vegan, and I learned that nutch makes things taste like chicken, apparently. You can serve this with any grain, really, or even potatoes or something starchy, filling, and rather plain like that—add some of the chopped up marinade ingredients to it to continue the flavour story, if you like.

Let’s recap: Frickin’ Marbella

  • Awesome ‘vege delicious chicken’ recipe
  • Needs an overnight to get delicious, and can marinade for several nights
  • Can be served hot or cold, main meal or amuse-gueule
  • Can be gluten- or soy-free, depending on the mock meat that you use
  • Easy—as you’ll see!—handfuls of ingredients here and there get marinaded and then thrown in the oven

frickin' vegan chick'n Marbella on the pan

Vegan Chicken Marbella Recipe

By M. M. Cassidy Published: January 18, 2011

  • Yield: 4 as a Main, 8-12 as an App Servings
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 50 mins
  • Ready In: 1 hr 17 mins

So much like chicken that you don't even need the apostrophe.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut the chicken into the serving sizes that you prefer. To serve 4 for dinner, I sliced mine into 12 or so 1/2"-wide strips and then cut the larger ones in half.
  2. Combine chicken, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper, vinegar, oil, prunes, olives, and capers in a bowl and let marinade overnight.
  3. When ready to cook, remove the marinade from the fridge. Separately, combine the sugar and molasses and stir well to make brown sugar.
  4. Preheat the oven to 175ºC (350ºF).
  5. Arrange chicken pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet and spoon the rest of the marinade over them. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pour white wine around the sheet.
  6. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, basting frequently and adding more white wine if the pan dries out.
  7. Transfer to serving dishes and sprinkle with parsley or cilantro, or more French herbs (thyme, rosemary, &c.). To serve cold, allow to cool to room temperature before serving. Easy!

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  • Martha Miller

    Yum! I am craving this now…must make it again soon. I love your writing style and not just because I’m your mom. Keep up the great work, darling.

  • Mike

    I bet this would have been nice with some poulsard…

    • M. M. Cassidy

      Jura Fête comes full circle! If only… Maybe next time? I’ll have to reprise this awesome recipe upon the next shipment of Vege Delicious Chicken. =D

  • MerynCadell

    Hi,

    I just came across this recipe (and your website generally – glad to find it!) while searching for a recipe containing this “vege chicken” that I bought in Chinatown. Your ingredient list doesn’t contain notes for the quantity of garlic or white wine. The garlic I can wing, but since I’ve never done a marinade-then-bake, it would be great to know the quantity of wine that’s recommended. Won’t wine on the baking sheet eventually burn?

    Signed,
    Longtime vegetarian; not-so-experienced cook.

    • Good catch, Meryn! I’ve updated the recipe to include garlic and white wine. You want enough white wine around the chicken so that there’s some sitting in the pan. It won’t burn, but it will cook off and reduce, eventually disappearing as it all either soaks into the chicken or evaporates.