"This came about because I like blood oranges so much. I put them with other ingredients that make me think of Sicily—Marsala and olives—and so it was born. It can be hard to find dry Marsala (some people will tell you it doesn’t exist), but persevere. When blood oranges aren’t in season, use regular ones." - Diana Henry, author of A Bird in the Hand: Chicken Recipes for Every Day and Every Mood
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a broad, ovenproof sauté pan in which the chicken pieces can lie in a single layer (I use a cast-iron pan). Season the chicken and brown it over medium-high heat on both sides, skin-side first. Be careful not to turn the chicken over before it comes away easily from the bottom of the pan, otherwise you will tear the skin. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside.
Discard all but a couple of tablespoons of the oil left behind in the pan. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with the Marsala, stirring it around to scrape up anything that’s stuck to the base. Add the blood orange juice. Return the chicken—with any juices that have run out of it—to the pan, skin-side up. Season and add 6 of the sprigs of thyme. Bring the liquid underneath the chicken to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat and put it in the oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut a slice off the bottom and top of each whole blood orange so they have a flat base on which to sit. Using a very sharp knife, cut the peel and pith from each orange, working around the fruit and cutting the peel away in broad slices from top to bottom. Slice the oranges into wheels and flick out any seeds you see.
Add the olives to the chicken and arrange the sliced blood oranges on top. (The oranges should remain on top, out of the liquid.) Sprinkle the orange slices with a little sugar and return the pan to the oven. Cook for another 20 minutes. The juices under the chicken should have reduced, the orange slices have turned golden, even caramelized in patches, and the chicken be cooked through.
Add the leaves of the remaining sprigs of thyme—they just lift the flavor—carefully spooning some of the juices over them. Serve immediately.