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The Lunchbox Season's Chicken MarVella

This budget-friendly twist on a classic makes the perfect weeknight feast.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Servings: 8
Author: Roseanne Carrara, The Lunchbox Season


  • 2.2 Kg or about 5 lbs chicken thighs and legs, bone in.
  • 3 tbs minced garlic [we used store-bought minced garlic in oil]
  • 3 tbs za'atar* [or dried spice mix of your liking]
  • 2-3 tsp coarse salt [we used sea salt]
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 c balsamic red wine, malt, or cider vinegar [we used balsamic]
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes [rough chopped if desired dried apricots, raisins, or other non-sweetened dried fruits may be substituted]
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives [we used sliced no-name Spanish Queen but those little pre-sliced circlets will do just fine]
  • 1/4 cup capers in their juice [that's about 1/2 a jar]
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 quarters of preserved lemon rinsed slightly if desired, and chopped [optional]
  • 1/2 c brown sugar [may be omitted but not recommended]
  • 1/2 c dry white wine chicken stock, or beer
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley [optional]
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro [optional]


Night Before, 10 Minute Prep

  • In a large bowl, combine garlic, za'atar, salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers in juice, bay leaves, and preserved lemon.
  • Add the chicken and rub with marinade.
  • Spread chicken and marinade into a large roasting pan.
  • Cover with foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Easy Weeknight 1 Hour Bake

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Remove the covering from the roasting pan.
  • Sprinkle the sugar over the chicken. [Again, the sugar may be omitted for a slightly less addictive meal, but you will have missed perfection!]
  • Pour the wine or stock over top.
  • Bake, uncovered, for at least 1 hour or until the chicken reaches a safe internal temperature of at least 165F (74C).


  • Sprinkle the dish with fresh chopped parsely and cilantro [optional].
  • Plate the poultry and spoon the sauce over top.
  • Or, cool the dish and serve cold.
  • Most importantly, ENJOY!


*If you don't have za'atar, you can make your own by combining thyme, ground sumac, sesame seeds, and salt in a ratio of 4:2:1:1/6. Omit the sesame if there are allergies. Or, you can substitute the dried green spice or spice mix of your choosing, i.e. thyme, chicken rub, garam masala, ras el hanout.
Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook