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Chicken Marbella

More than any other recipe in Sheila Lukins’s wildly successful The Silver Palate Cookbook, which she coauthored with Julee Rosso in 1979, Chicken Marbella became a standard at dinner parties — bold, sweet, and savory flavor made with lots of garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, oregano, dried plums, and olives. When I make it, I use boneless chicken breasts and double the amount of olives and prunes — oops, I mean dried plums.–Joan Nathan

LC What Sheila Said Note

Author Sheila Lukins, she of Silver Palate fame, can recall a time when this now-classic recipe would have seemed new and strange to the average American cook. “The ingredients in Chicken Marbella might have seemed wildly exotic to our palates in 1979. Who would think that we would eat prunes, green olives, and copious amounts of oregano and garlic? Our adventuresome palates were awakening.” Uh, we honestly don’t know what to say to that.

Chicken Marbella Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 3 H
  • Makes 10 to 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
  • 1 bulb garlic, finely puréed
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups pitted dried plums
  • 1 cup pitted green olives, or a mix of olives such as Greek, Moroccan, or French
  • 1/2 cup capers, with about a tablespoon of their juice
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley or fresh cilantro

Directions

  • 1. Place the chicken in a large bowl. Cover it with the garlic, oregano, coarse salt and pepper, vinegar, olive oil, dried plums, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Rub the chicken well with the marinade and refrigerate, covered, ideally overnight, but at least for 2 hours.
  • 2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • 3. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in 1 or 2 large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around but not on them.
  • 4. Bake for about 40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with the pan juices.
  • 5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, dried plums, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with the parsley or cilantro. Serve the remaining pan juices in a separate bowl.
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