The Silver Palate’s Chicken Marbella–quartered chickens marinated overnight in oil, vinegar, capers, olives, prunes, and herbs then baked with brown sugar and white wine–is a classic. This version calls for boneless, skinless breasts. Either way it’s delicious.
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. Originally published May 3, 2005.–Joan Nathan
Classic Chicken Marbella
The great cookbook author and cook Joan Nathan, whose version this is, prefers boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The recipe everyone loves, from The Silver Palate Cookbook, calls for quartered chickens (as in the photo). Make no bones about it, the choice is yours. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)
Chicken Marbella Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 3 H
- Makes 10 to 12 servings
- 6 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved (or two 3 1/2 to 4-pound chickens, quartered)
- 1 garlic head, 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 flat-leaf parsley or cilantro leaves
- 1. Place the chicken (breast or pieces) 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.