Chicken Marbella

One of the finest dishes ever to come out of The Silver Palate Cookbook, Chicken Marbella is chicken first marinated in oil, vinegar, capers, olives, prunes, and herbs, then baked with added brown sugar and white wine. Prunes are the distinctive ingredient in this famous dish. They’re actually used often in classical French cooking, and the Silver Palate recipe borrows heavily from the French traditional lapin aux pruneaux.

While prunes and capers might seem like an odd combination, when cooked together with chicken they create a delectable sweet and sour, savory flavor. Chicken Marbella is a great dish for entertaining, not only is it easy to put together without a lot of hands on cooking time, but it’s also a real crowd pleaser.

The original recipe calls for the chicken pieces to be marinated all night. We found that marinating for 2-3 hours worked fine.

From the recipe archive, first posted 2005.

  • Prep: 15 minutes
  • Cook: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 5-8

Although the original recipe calls for 2 small chickens to be quartered, you could easily do this recipe with 5 pounds of chicken pieces, thighs and breasts.

Ingredients

  • 2 chickens, 2 1/2 lbs each, quartered, bone-in, skin-on
  • Cloves from 1/2 head of garlic, peeled and finely puréed
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes
  • 8 large pitted Spanish green olives, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup capers with a bit of juice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

Method

1 In a large bowl combine garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers with caper juice, and bay leaves. Add the chicken pieces and coat completely with the marinade. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, several hours or overnight.

2 Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle brown sugar over the chicken pieces and pour white wine around them.

3 Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with the pan juices. Chicken is done when a sharp knife inserted into the thigh pieces, at their thickest point, run with clear yellow juices (not pink).

4 With a slotted spoon, move the chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Pour some of the pan juices over the chicken and sprinkle generously with parsley. Serve remaining juices in a gravy boat.

Slightly adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook

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