I would like to make this with split (1/2) Cornish game hens. Any changes suggested?
Hello P.Bennett, all I can think of is that the cornish game hens may cook faster than chicken, so you probably don’t need to cook them as long in the oven.
I live alone and love this dish but don’t want to be eating it for the next two years. I see even the “for two” recipe calls for TWO CHICKENS. Can this be made well in smaller quantities?
Hi Aynne, Sure just cut the recipe amounts in half. You might not need to cook the dish as long.
Has anyone tried to make this with boneless skinless chicken breasts?
I have made the recipe with boneless, skinless breasts for a buffet. I followed Elise’s perfect recipe for poaching the breasts in cling film, where you twist the wrapped chicken breasts into a loaf shape. I later cut the chicken in slices and put the slices in the marinade, which I had reduced a bit on the stovetop, since I was not actually baking the chicken. It came out very well, and was much easier to eat buffet-style.
I’d like to make this with boneless thighs & breasts. It seems like I’ve tried it with the
breasts and they were dry. Maybe it would be ok with thighs only? Can you help?
Hi Diane, chicken breasts are almost always problematic, even with skin on and bone in. I’m sure the dish will work fine with boneless chicken thighs. You might not need to cook them as long if they are boneless.
Thanks Elise. It’s never pretty seeing an 80 year old woman running from a dinner party. Added Apricots and prunes. The dates lately are not do great. But I am in South Dakota.
As delicious as it is with prunes, you can replace them with apricots (I use canned) and it tastes just as nice in my opinion. :)
I am making this tomorrow for a very opinionated old lady. I love her but if I tell her there are prunes she will walk out. Because everyone else loves this recipe, and I know the prunes are important. I thought I would ‘hide the prunes by loosely chopping and adding some dried apricots. This should divert her. Do you think the combo would still work?
Hi Cari, this recipe is actually a classic Mediterranean dish. You can used dried apricots, plums (prunes), and or dried figs, or some combination. They all work great!
I have a question… my friend made this fir us in South Carolina and i couldnt stop eating it and putting the gravy on evrything… came home to Denver and while it taste the same there us no gravy at all, just clear liquid…i am assuming us the altitude but dint know what to do about it… can you help me? I LOVE this recipe!
Hi Mariela, I think what you might be encountering is a difference in humidity. South Carolina has a humid climate. Denver is extremely dry. At that high elevation it just sucks the moisture out of everything. I recommend covering the chicken while you cook it, and then just broiling it for a minute or two to get some browning at the end. That way the juices won’t evaporate before you have a chance to capture them for gravy.
Thank you! I’ll try that next time
My juice is always watery so I thicken it with a little cornflour – NOT too much!
I’m going to serve over orchiette pasta. what kind of veggie would you serve on the side?
Made exactly as per recipe and it was fantastic! So great to prepare ahead of time then throw it in the oven when guests arrive. Presentation on a platter is impressive!
my husband is a diabetic, can I leave out the brown sugar
Hi Rita, if you leave out the sugar, reduce the vinegar to only a tablespoon.
Can this be made ahead and frozen?
Hi Gitel, I don’t see why not!
I’ve made this many times (in the slow cooker) just as written and it’s super delicious. I was wondering if anyone has added canned artichokes to it? Any ideas about this??? Thanks
It is delicious. That is the way my mother-in-law and I both make it.
Can this dish be marinade for two nights?
Hi Bonnie, typically you don’t want to marinate chicken in an acidic marinade for more than a day because the acid in the marinade breaks down the chicken. That said, I haven’t tried this recipe with a 2-day marinating time, so it could work fine, don’t know.
I’m making this for the first time and I added my brown sugar and wine to the marinade! Will this be okay?
Hi Cynthia, yes, it should be fine.
I do this by accident almost every time I make the recipe! (you ‘d think I would’ve learned) It comes out fine.
I did too but turned out fine.
Aloha, I’ve made this recipe a few times and it has always turned out well… Tonight I actually read and followed the directions! It is much more subtle when you let the chicken marinade! Great recipe Mahalo
I’m so glad you like it Halzonski!
Everyone loves this dish! I’ve doubled the recipe with great success and highly recommend it as a super-easy yet elegant dinner party entree. Add a lovely salad, a fresh vegetable side and crusty bread…wow!
Just made this for a group dinner. I doubled the recipe and because I didn’t have oregano, I used marjoram. Because I didn’t have prunes I used dates, and the result was fantastic! Seems pretty fool-proof!
Quick question! In the case or the oregano, should I omit it completely or sub Italian seasoning?
I love this recipe! Thank so much Elise. Yummmmmm!!!!!!
Will a moscato be alright in this recipe?
Hi k, I typically would use a drier wine than moscato for a recipe like this. But if you do try it with the moscato, please let us know how it turns out for you!
I will! I guess I’ll reduce the amount of brown sugar, too.
I almost always use a moscato for this recipe; just reduce the brown sugar as suggested. It turns out great every time. This dish is both elegant and exotic and is easy to make. My two sons beg for it, and they’re typical American boys. Highly recommend.
I’ve made this recipe so many times that it’s high time I come over and thank you for it. I recently made a whole roast chicken that was inspired by the sweet-sour-piquant flavours of this dish that turned out rather different but was absolutely delicious too and thought I should stop lurking and finally come around and say hi. Do check out the recipe on my blog.
Thanks for sharing so many wonderful fool proof recipes here. Your dedication is inspiring.
You have a gorgeous blog, thanks for stopping by!
Thanks so much Elise. Means a lot coming from a stalwart like you!!
Excellent recipe! I saw the photo of this and instantly knew I had to make this.
Last time I made this I threw in about a cup of dried cherries along with all the other ingredients….. it just added to the scrumptious, alternating flavours.
Thanks so much for this wonderful website….I’ve never been disappointed with the recipes on here.
This is a favorite of ours as well. Just have to pass along that we believe we’ve discovered the perfect side……spaghetti squash ! It just loves the juices and is quite attractive.
Whoa!! This was SO good! Thank you, thank you, thank you. We’ve indulged last night, for dinner, and it will go on my fav list immediately.
This is one of the best chicken recipes EVER!! I was given the recipe many years ago and it never fails to impress but is relatively simple to assemble and cook. Glad you posted it as a reminder of its greatness!
Oh, Elise! You’ve done it again!
Wow. Just made it tonight and it was magical. I can’t believe how awesome olives+prunes+chicken can be! Simply wonderful!
I’m assuming this is calling for dried prunes? It’s definitely not something I’ve cooked with before but I’m trying to expand into unfamiliar territory so this sounds like something worth trying.
prunes are basically dried plums
Looks like the French version of the Pollo Estofado recipe you’ve published, differences being in the savory additions. Intrigued by the thought of the capers, olives & prunes playing off each other. Great meal for a busy weeknight too, because you can prep is ahead of time. A real winner!
One of my very favorite party dishes that always gets rave reviews. I’ve been using boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half, and really like it for a change. Thanks for reminding us of what a fabulous dish this is.
Best party recipe ever! This is one of my goto dishes. And you cannot marinate it too long, I think the record here is 3 days before party. I’m drooling, not I want this for dinner!
hi Elise! it looks delicious, good marinated! I cook chicken with red wine and black olives: http://olletadelaplana.blogspot.com.es/2013/08/pollo-tinto.html but I will try this recipe, prunes and chicken are a perfect mixture! xo
When I saw you share this recipe on Facebook, I actually gasped. A friend and I ate this at a church group dinner more than 10 years ago while in school in SoCal, and have never forgotten it. I was horrified when the hostess informed us that the entrée combined prunes and olives (neither of which I liked until I was older and a much more experienced foodie/cook), and something called “capers” (which I had literally never heard of). I was politely dubious until the first bite–after that it was amazed reverence. I didn’t know the name of the dish or where it came from, but I have been obsessively dreaming of it and searching for this recipe for the last 10 years.
I got goosebumps as I read through the recipe on your site and realized this was “The One.” I bought The Silver Palate on Amazon immediately, and am impatiently waiting for a free weekend when that friend from 10 years ago (who also never forgot this amazing dish) can join us with her family and we can make it together. How’s that for full circle? :)
I can’t thank you enough!
What a great story Gloria! The first time I had this dish it was a revelation too. Prunes? Really? Wow, did they make the dish.
holy moly ! made this last night and it turned out looking exactly like your website pics ! the flavors are quite subtle. going to buy some crusty bread to soak up the delicious pan juices for tonight’s dinner. thank you !!!!!
Elise, This is one of my family’s favorites (and a favorite to serve company, too). I was just wondering what you think of using lamb chops instead of chicken? I know, a totally different flavor, but I was thinking it would work as braise–more slow cooking, less marinating before hand–what do you think? (I might try it tonight. If I do, I’ll post how it turns out.)
Sounds great! Let us know how it turns out for you if you try it.
I make a stuffed whole pumpkin recipe once a year and it has very similar ingredients in it but with ground beef and raisins instead of prunes. So I bet this would work well with lamb instead of chicken. I can’t wait to make this chicken because everyone raves about the pumpkin.
Why is it red wine vinegar but white wine in the dish?
I made this recipe for my family and they loved it – once they got past the fact that prunes were in it. It is really wonderful! I want to make it for a large party and am trying to make as much as possible ahead of time. Would it be best to make it a day or so ahead and reheat it or should I make it a week ahead and freeze and reheat?
Good question, no idea. I’ve not made this ahead. ~Elise
What liquid can be substituted for the wine? I would like to serve this dish and one of the guests is in recovery and cannot have the wine [it doesn’t all cook off]. Thank you.
Try using chicken stock with a splash of lemon juice. ~Elise
I make this recipe all of the time with huge success. I spent a summer in Marbella, Spain and think the recipe is named for this town as olives are grown nearby and used frequently in cooking. I never use garlic as I don’t eat it, but no one has ever complained! Also, I use skinless breasts and as long as you baste, all is fine. I always make the full marinade/sauce recipe no matter how little chicken and pass the sauce as everyone loves it. Sometimes I add extra olives and capers as I love that saltiness. Don’t use black olives…you will lose the saltiness and lose the Mediterranean flavor.
I made this for the second time this weekend, but this time, I didn’t look at the ‘method’ part of the recipe, and I put the wine and sugar in the marinade. I did not sprinkle the sugar and pour the white wine over the chicken before roasting as directed. A small thing, but I didn’t think this batch was as good – so don’t miss that step! It made a big difference to me. My company thought it was great, however :-)
Love this dish with rice and roasted root vegies. Yummy!
This is such an elegant but very simple recipe!
– I only use 2 cloves of garlic
– Have only ever made it with Kalamata olives as I prefer them. Definitely provide less colour but flavour is more important to me.
– I have been in a rush and only let it marinade for an hour and it still turns out great!
– I use about 1/2 the brown sugar
– If it isn’t brown enough at then end of the cooking time, broil it for a few minutes (but watch very carefully)!
– I usually serve with roasted potatoes and a light salad.
The pictures of the recipe look great….but how do the chicken pieces get that nice browned effect without actually browning the chicken in a pan with butter?
Because they’re baked in an oven, at a temperature high enough to brown the tops. ~Elise
Love this recipe. I’ve made it with just red wine, kalamata instead of green olives, chicken breasts instead of whole chickens, white sugar instead of brown and it still tasted great. Someday I’ll make the original recipe.
The one thing I’ve always been nervous about is the GARLIC! I tend to stick to one or two cloves. Isn’t this really garlicky as is?
Hi Robin, the garlic gets cooked for a good long time, mellowing out its intensity. I don’t recall this dish being especially garlicky in taste as a result. ~Elise
Chicken Marbella! Haven’t had it in years, but did today with a side of quinoa and sauteed brussels sprouts/corn/garlic. Absolutely delicious! My friend Carol always served it with faro or bulgur – also pretty delicious. What a wonderful trip down memory lane! Thanks!
Regarding black vs green olives, I used kalamatas because that was what I had on hand. It tasted great but the green olives would have looked better. The green olives provide more visual contrast to the dark prunes, the Ks (or blacks) make it visually a bit drab.
Leftovers make the best chicken salad EVER!
This is a response to the Susan Jordan post on March 27, 2011. Easy answer. If you half the chicken, ALWAYS keep the rest the same to duplicate the best results. Better yet, why not make the whole thing – leftovers are always better the next day or two, or, freeze and reheat. I’m a single “foodie” (widower) who loves to be in the kitchen. Even cooking singleton, I always do a full recipe. It beats doing it all over again from scratch just for two and you always then have a nice variety of frozen full meal entrees to choose from. It sound as if you may also be a new chef in the kitchen – do get The Silver Palate 25th Anniversary Issue – it’s updated and has a bunch of great new recipes in it. Four great beginners cookbooks you need to get are “The New Making of a Cook” by Madeleine Kamman, “The Gourmet Cookbook” by Ruth Reichl, “James Beard’s American Cookery”, and, “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” by Marcella Hazan – it’s the Bible for Italian cooking and reads like a novel. Hope this helps.
How long could this dish be kept in the fridge? also can anyone tell me about freezing it?
Oh, a few days. Probably up to 5 days, depending on how cold you keep your fridge. As for freezing it, I haven’t done so but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work fine. ~Elise
WOW…I used bone-in, skin on thighs and large chicken cutlets , arranging the thighs on the outside of a baking dish and the chicken breast on the inside to keep them from drying out. I did use the dried apricots instead of the prunes because I had them on hand but followed the recipe as written. We really enjoyed this dish and will make again for guests. I did have some breast/juice leftover, sliced it thin, warmed it up in the oven and made over the top *chicken quesadillas*….to die for!!!! The breast meat had absorbed more favor from the juices and they were DELISH!!!!
An elegant dish
Can I use chicken tenderloins / strips for this recipe? I want to serve something that can be fork-cut; am having a large group and don’t want the trouble of bones, knives, etc. It is one of my faves, but not sure if the strips will dry out.
Tha k you!
Hi Kathy, I think the strips might cook too quickly, not giving the rest of the ingredients enough time. I would use boneless thighs and breasts, and then just cut up the pieces into bite-sized portions before serving. Or you could try the tenders and see it if works for you. If so, please let us know how it turns out. ~Elise
Had this cookbook for years and years, never made this recipe before. I marinated chicken the night before and cooked it during Hurricane Irene for dinner. First bite I thought the dish was just okay. The more I ate it, the more I loved it. I served it over orzo. I’d make even more sauce the next time and cut the brown sugar down a bit. Cooked it for an hour and turned the heat up to 375º for the last 15 minutes to brown up the chicken. My hubby had 3 servings. Excellent.
I made it with dates instead of prunes, and it was WONderful!!
It seems silly to say it again, but this recipe is fabulous, especially to serve to company. It looks elegant and complicated, but it’s easy and the flavors are complex without being snooty. LOVE this recipe.
I am sitting at my desk eating leftover chicken marbella that my mom made for my 29th birthday the other day, and it is exquisite. It’s always been a favorite of mine. Time to start making it myself! Mom cuts a few corners, using boneless, skinlees chicken thighs (the dark meat is perfect for this!) and just cutting up her garlic instead of pureeing or mashing it. I think I’ll double the amount of prunes in it, as they are my favorite and I always wish I had more.
We’re cooking this recipe for a group dinner, but we also have a vegetarian joining us. We were thinking about making a small side of this with eggplant or portobello mushrooms. Has anyone ever tried this? Any success?
I am about to make this but just for two people. Somehow halving the ingredients (other than the chicken) seems like there will not be enough sauce. And I think I read somewhere to just use one chicken but keep the rest of the recipe the same.
If anyone knows the answer, please let me know.
Jen, can you have shallots? They would probably be very good in this dish.
Has anyone tried to make this dish without the garlic? I have a garlic allergy but would like to try it if I could find a substitute for the cloves of garlic.
We call this Wedding Chicken at our house. My Aunt first served it at her wedding about 20 years ago, then it is served at Christmas dinner every few years, finally it was served with wild rice at my wedding 2 years ago. I had more requests for the recipe than I thought possible! It is very good cold or hot and it is very easy to make in large batches. We served about 300 people at my wedding!
I am going to try this in the slow cooker. I assume 6-8 hours on low should be acceptable?
Also for those who have tried either way, have they noticed a difference in taste via cooking methods?
One of the best chicken dishes that I have tried on this site. Thanks for introducing me and my family to something new!
My mom used to make this for dinner parties when I was little. Having discovered the wonders of the slow cooker, I have found that I can just put all of the ingredients in the slow cooker, and the results are the same as marinating it overnight (I haven’t found the need to brown the chicken, but one could). Therefore, I don’t have to wait a day if I am craving this childhood favorite.
I make this dish, a VERY close approximation, and enjoy serving it to guests. They are always hesitant, at first, and take a small portion to start with. And they always end up asking for seconds! There is such depth of flavor yet it’s really so easy. (I JUST today discovered this site, if you can believe that. I am thoroughly enjoying it.)
I prefer to use quinoa – I ladle the chicken right on top of it – yummy!
Has anyone ever used quinoa as a side dish to this recipe?
I too love this recipe…but does anyone have any tips for what wine would work well with it? I have found it difficult in the past to match a wine to the sweet and sour flavours…
Judy, I think this goes well with Israeli couscous. Sometimes I put the leftover parsley and sun-dried tomatoes in it.
We women were using the Silver Palate Cookbook back in the ’70s up in the Yukon, and we really wowed them when we seved Chicken Marbella. I dug out my book again today and am checking the needed ingredients so I can serve it to a special group next Wednesday. I was very sorry to read that Sheila Lukins had passed away….
One thing with which I’ve always struggled: what to serve with it. I think rice was never good, and pasta worked well, but how about spaetzle, my favourite new noodle? Cheers!
Thanks Elise for this wonderful recipie. I made it for my boyfriend and he’s now always asking for it! I have my parents visiting this weekend all the way from Egypt and Germany (I’m in New Zealand) and my boyfriend asked I make this for their welcome to NZ dinner the day they arrive.
I made this dish for Christmas dinner last night and it was DELICIOUS! I did not have red wine vinegar and so used sherry with a splash of acv. I also used both prunes and dates, and I mixed bone-in thighs with boneless breasts. Thanks for a great recipe!
Does anyone know the origins of Chicken Marbella other than being a recipe from the Silver Palate Cookbook? It seems it has some Spanish origins, however I live in Marbella and have never come across this recipe, although there are similar ones. Just curious as to why it was referred to as Marbella.
I baked this recipe today after marinating overnight (about 12 hrs) and it is absolutely scrumptious. I was skeptical when I read the recipe because of how I thought the olives and capers might overpower and make it too briney in flavor. But, it is so well balanced by the herbs, prunes, sugar and wine and becomes something entirely savory and rich in flavor instead. I can’t say enough good things about this recipe.
I cut the whole chicken into individual pieces, skinned the breast and thighs. I decided to bake it this morning at about 10am to avoid cooking in the predicted high heat of the day. I’m anxious to taste it tomorrow since the recipe says it even improves with a couple of days in the fridge. I can’t imagine it getting better! Thanks for presenting this, Elise. (late to the party though I am)
Sheila Lukins, the author of this recipe originally published in a great cookbook called the Silver Palate, died the other day.
I have never made this recipe but will try this weekend in her honor. Sounds like it is a winner.
The recipe calls for ‘quartered’ chicken pieces but the picture shows smaller pieces. What is the reason for the recipe calling for such big pieces? Any ideas?
Perhaps the chickens were smaller? Sometimes thighs and legs are served together, uncut. We tend to get big chickens, so usually part out the chickens into more parts. ~Elise
I did not have time to marinate the chicken, so I just did it in the stove using chicken legs (that have much more flavor than breast). I sealed the chicken with the dry ingredients, and then I added the wet ingredients and capers, olives and prunes. and let it cook in medium heat for 30 min. The result was fantastic!
I saw a prep & freeze comment and was wondering if anyone has ever actually done this. I’m planning on feeding a crowd on a camping trip and this would be a great option.
I haven’t tried this combination yet, but I plan on serving this dish for a family dinner this evening. Because of the flavors of this meal I feel that it will be complimented quite well by other Mediterranean flavors. Side dishes will be a quinoa tabbouleh and a salad.
The recipe for the quinoa tabbouleh has a recommendation for making this the night before. I did that to make my preperation for the family dinner easier, as well as allowing the flavors to develop further overnight. You can find the link here: http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/salad/recipe-quinoa-tabbouleh-090136
The other side dish that I’m making is a salad, which will contain:
1. Fresh spinach leaves
2. Fresh sliced nectarines
3. Crumbled feta cheese
4. Dried cranberries
5. Pine nuts
6. Raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing
I am planning on making this dish at a party coming up. I was just wondering if there were any good dishes that would go well with this dish.
I haven’t made this in several years but it was a hit when I did. I have done it with chicken breast and also chicken wings for a new year’s eve party! FABULOUS
Was going nuts trying to decide what to cook for mother’s day and this popped in my head. I’m sure it will impress all :)
I love, love, love this recipe! So easy to make for a crowd. Great dish for entertaining. Rarely make it though due to my 12 year old’s food allergy to garlic.
PS To: Mary B. do not use black olives and you can mince garlic for it. I do.
Has anyone ever used black olives instead of green in this recipe? Seems like visually it would be better and I like black olives taste better.
Also, can I just mince the garlic and not puree it?
Please advise since I have never made this before. thanks!
I made this today for 2 friends who are sick and their families. My “picky-eater” 8 year-old nephew ate every bite. It is a great dish to take to someone and it is even better the next day.
This is a classic recipe from the Silver Palate Cookbook, with the quantities halved for a smaller, more manageable dish. This recipe is foolproof and delicious! The first time I made it following the ingredients to a T, it turned out fantastic. The second time I decided I preferred dried figs to the prunes, and omitted the sugar, and liked it even better! I use boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders and it’s easy. Comes out plenty moist as long as you make sure the chicken pieces are well coated with the pan juices. A cinch and a pleasure to make.
This is one of my all-time favorites. The flavors blend so nicely, and it is an attractive dish to serve to company. Also a plus…it is marinated the night before, so there is minimal mess on the day of the party.
I tried it with boneless skinless chicken breasts and did NOT like how it turned out. Stick with bone-in breasts and legs.
I love it too and think I may try it with boneless chicken breasts. Will I need to cut back on the cooking time?
I make this with chunks of boneless, skinless chicken breast — marinate overnight with all of the ingredients except the wine (but including the brown sugar), and add the wine and bake the next day. With the boneless chicken, it becomes a perfect buffet dish, and if the chicken chunks are at least one inch square, they don’t dry out.
My aunt made this for us last summer…so delicious…simple and elegant…a winner!
I made this recipe yesterday for my Mahjongg friends and everybody liked it. I forgot to add the sugar, but it was still delicious, I will definitely make it again
I have made this many times, but since I do not like prunes, I have used dates – delicious none the less! Also good with boneless cutlets,
I always add dried apricots to this recipe too. Just throw half a cup of them in with everything else and they really add to the dish.
I made this for my ladies Bible study dinner last night and it was a hit! Being in a hurry during prep, I accidentally added the brown sugar and wine to the marinade, rather than adding just before baking – but the dish turned out fine. I also baked and served in the same dish, and the presentation was still beautiful. This is a delicious meal – definitely one I will make again and probably one that I will prep & freeze, so I can just thaw and throw in the oven. Thanks!
One of my all time favorite dishes. It is delicious. Don’t hesitate. You can always call them “dried plums”
I just tried this recipe. I had had it at a dinner party where I was suitably impressed by the complexity of flavors.
I really loved making the chicken this way. Thanks!
Hi Lynne, yep I had it a few years ago at a friend’s house and begged the recipe from her. It really is quite surprisingly good.
Hey Robert – nice to see you here!
Man that looks good. I love that combination of flavors: salty, tart, with the peculiarly pine-like aroma of capers.
Do capers really have a pine-like taste or scent? I have never cooked with them, only enjoyed them in restaurant meals. Now I’m eager to try my hand at this recipe for several reasons 1) I think the Capers & Prunes is really intriguing in this recipe 2) This chicken Marbella surely will impress and I appreciate ANY recipe that doesn’t require tons of hands-on time and 3) The name Marbella is so pretty it almost sounds like something I’d name a kid!
Thanks for reminding me of this recipe. I’ve made it several times, years ago, and it was really very good. I have several favorites from The Silver Palate Cookbook.
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