Chicken Marbella


     Home to many of today’s rich and famous, Marbella (pronounced mar-bay-ah) is located in the south of Spain between Malaga and Gibraltar. In the middle of the twentieth century, American film stars discovered its gorgeous beaches and marvelous climate. The wealthy Saudis and European aristocrats followed shortly thereafter. 

Well, I Can Dream Can’t I?

     Today it’s a resort town packed with out-of-sight mansions, luxury boats, and upscale automobiles. The streets are lined with designer shops and great restaurants. It has a pulsating night life, and it’s very upscale and high dollar. I soon realized that Marbella is yet one more location where I apparently won’t ever be able to afford to establish a residence or even to visit.

     In my research I also found that our featured dish didn’t originate from Marbella at all. It did, however, serve as the inspiration for Chicken Marbella. It‘s actually a Jewish-American dish invented on Manhattan’s Upper West Side (where it’s pronounced mar-bella). It’s one of the featured dishes in The Silver Palate Cookbook. For a more complete history, look up The Fascinating Tale Of The Chicken Marbella Recipe online.

The Perfect Dish If You Are Entertaining

     The list of the recipe’s ingredients certainly suggests that this is a Mediterranean dish. The first time I read the recipe I wondered what kind of taste would result from this combination of prunes, olives, capers, garlic, and brown sugar. Well, I was very surprised. It was absolutely delightful. It tasted briny, sweet, and tangy with a subtle hint of the component spices coming through in each bite.

     Not only was this a delicious dish, but it was also entertaining friendly. Most of the work was done the day before.  The pieces of chicken were  marinated overnight, and then about 90 minutes before the target time , it was assembled and cooked. When finished it was taken right from the oven and plated. As a result, we were able to enjoy our guests as it was cooking.

Chicken Marbella

yields: 6 Servings prep time: 20 Minutes cook time: 90 Minutes
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6 lb. 6 cloves 3 Tbsp Salt and papper 3/8 cup 3/8 cup 3/4 cup 12 large 3/8 cup 4 3/4 cup 3/4 cup 3 Tbsp
Chicken pieces assorted Garlic finely chopped Oregano dried To taste Vinegar red wine EVOO Prunes pitted Olives Spanish green pitted Capers with a bit of juice Bay leaves Sugar brown Wine (Chardonnay recommmended) Italian parsley or cilantro finely chopped
  • 6 lb.
    Chicken pieces assorted
  • 6 cloves
    Garlic finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp
    Oregano dried
  • Salt and papper
    To taste
  • 3/8 cup
    Vinegar red wine
  • 3/8 cup
  • 3/4 cup
    Prunes pitted
  • 12 large
    Olives Spanish green pitted
  • 3/8 cup
    Capers with a bit of juice
  • 4
    Bay leaves
  • 3/4 cup
    Sugar brown
  • 3/4 cup
    Wine (Chardonnay recommmended)
  • 3 Tbsp
    Italian parsley or cilantro finely chopped


The day before in a medium aluminum mixing bowl combine chicken pieces (keep bone and skin intact), garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Enter Target Time _______________

Time: __________ (90 minutes prior to target time)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Arrange chicken in a single layer in 4½-quart casserole, and spoon marinade over it evenly.

  3. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them. Important: top half of chicken pieces should be exposed so proper browning occurs.

  4. Bake for approximately 75 minutes, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice and the temperature is between 165 and 175 degrees.

  5. With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro.

  6. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauce boat.

Note: Silver Palate Recipe

Note: Buttered small red potatoes and steamed broccoli are good sides.

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