Molly Marbella with Dates and Israeli CousCous


This recipe calls for 8 chicken thighs, which make serving them straight out of the baking dish very easy, but it works just as well with whole chicken legs, which can be served whole or cut into drummies and thighs after the fact. The point is, dark meat is the way to go here. It turns very tender as it braises in a sweet and sour marinade. Israeli cous cous comes in many colors, and any of them will work great. I like the turmeric stained variety for its bright yellow color but use whatever you can find.

Active Time: 30 Mins

Total Time: 3.5 hrs



  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 8 medium shallots
  • 5 large sprigs thyme


  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 ounces medjool dates, (4 dates)
  • 1 ½ cups dry white wine
  • 1 heaping cup pitted castelvetrano olives
  • 1 ½ cups Israeli couscous


  • 8 large bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, or 4 chicken legs (about 3 ¼ pounds)

1. Make the marinade:

  • Peel and crush 8 garlic cloves with the side of a large chef’s knife.
  • Peel and halve 8 medium shallots.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk to combine ⅓ cup olive oil, ½ cup sherry vinegar, and 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt, 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper, and 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Add the garlic, shallots, and 5 sprigs thyme.
  • Place 8 chicken thighs in a large, resealable plastic bag. Add the contents of the marinade and seal the bag, pushing out any excess air. Transfer to the refrigerator and let marinate, at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours in advance, flipping the bag halfway through to encourage even marinating.

2. Roast the Chicken

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Pit and quarter 3 ounces of medjool dates. Add to a 9” x 13” baking dish, along with contents of the marinade.
  • Add 1 ½ cups white wine, 1 heaping cup pitted castelvetrano olives, and arrange the chicken skin side up.
  • Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and transfer to the oven. Roast 35 minutes.
  • Increase oven temperature to 425 and remove foil. Continue roasting for 20 minutes more.
  • Remove the pan from the oven. Sprinkle 1 ½ cups Israeli couscous around and under the chicken, using a spoon to tilt the thighs to one side as you distribute the cous cous into the cooking liquid. Give the cous cous a bit of a stir so as to coat with pan juices. As best you can, prop chicken thighs on top of shallots so they sit slightly higher. This will promote better browning of the skin! Return to the oven and roast, 25-30 more, stirring the cous cous halfway through, until the skin is burnished and deeply golden brown and couscous is tender. Some of the top bits of couscous may become slightly toasted. Embrace that crunch!