Chicken Marbella is a classic dish of marinated chicken with olives, capers, and prunes. The prunes soak up the brown sugar and white wine, which also keeps the chicken moist and flavorful.
I first had Chicken Marbella at a lab party hosted by my boss in 2006. It was incredible! I loved everything about it – even the prunes were delicious, and I don’t think I had ever tried a prune at that point.
It turns out that Chicken Marbella is a classic recipe from Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins that became popular at their Silver Palate shop in New York City. I can definitely see why it was a hit with customers! I received the 25th Anniversary Edition of the Silver Palate Cookbook for Christmas 2007 from my mother-in-law. This is a great cookbook, and I highly recommend it.
I have since made Chicken Marbella three times, and it’s always a success. The first time, I made it with bone-in chicken pieces, as called for in the original recipe. The second time with boneless, skinless chicken thighs (and I think this is my favorite way), and the third with boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces. I’ve even scaled the recipe down to 1/2 and 1/4. You really can’t go wrong with this recipe!
The chicken, olives, and prunes are marinated in olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, and capers. Please note that the marination ideally takes place overnight, so plan accordingly!
After the marination step, the chicken mixture is added to a pan and covered with brown sugar, then white wine is poured around the chicken. The chicken and prunes cook in this flavorful sauce. While the prunes soak up the juices, the chicken is kept very moist and flavorful.
This dish is naturally gluten free. I usually make this for special events, like holiday dinners, but have also made it on a random weeknight when we haven’t had it in a while. It’s one of my favorite dinners of all time!
For the marination step:
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 cup pitted prunes
- 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
- 1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 head of garlic (peeled and finely pureed)
- 1/4 cup dried oregano
- Course salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- 4 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each, quartered, or any type of chicken)
For the baking step:
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf parsley or fresh cilantro, finely chopped)
- To prepare the marinade, combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the brown sugar and pour the white wine around them.
- Bake, basting frequently with the pan juices, until the thigh pieces yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice when pricked with a fork, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with the parsley or cilantro. Pass the remaining juices in a sauceboat.