Chicken Marbella Redux

Confession – I have been making the Silver Palate’s Chicken Marbella since before I knew the correct pronunciation.  That’s easily thirty-two years, as I remember it was part of the buffet for adult friends and family at my son Isaac’s first birthday party.  It’s one of those go-to recipes that fills the need for anything from a weeknight supper (provided you remember to start marinating the night before or the morning of) to a Passover main dish that can be prepared and reheated.

As long as Whole Foods keeps having their Bell & Evans whole chickens on special for $1.69/lb., I’m gonna bring out all the chicken-on-the-bone faves in my repertoire, and save the livers for chopped liver or paté.  I like to cut these 4.5 lb chickens into 10 pieces – splitting each breast half in half again, cutting off the wings, and then the thighs and drums.  Works nicely with either a dry white wine, white vermouth, or a slightly sweet Marsala or Madeira if that’s all you have on hand.

There’s so much going on in this dish that it works best with simple sides.  Garlic mashed, for instance, or roasted herbed red-skin potatoes, and maybe a green vegetable or a salad.  I’m about ready to take this out of the fridge and commence the cooking – just writing this is making me hungry:


(adapted for one large chicken, and my love of prunes and olives)

MARINADE:  Combine in a large baking dish (oval or roughly 9 x 13 rectangle)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic or other red wine vinegar

2 tbsp dried oregano

3 very fat garlic cloves, or 6 smaller ones, crushed in a garlic press or pureed

1/4 cup small capers with some of their juice

3 bay leaves

S&P to taste

about 16 pitted prunes

about 16 green olives with pits (such as Castelvetrano)


1 4.5-5 lb. air-chilled chicken cut into 10 pieces

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup or more white wine


Refrigerate marinating chicken in the baking dish several hours.  Remove from fridge while preheating your oven to 350.  If your baking dish is large enough to contain everything in one layer, use that.  Otherwise, transfer to a larger roasting pan or cast iron skillet.  I like to use my new 12″ Lodge cast iron skillet for this so I can reduce the pan juices later without using another vessel. Sprinkle the chicken pieces evenly with the brown sugar and pour the wine around the pieces into the pan.  Bake for about one hour, spooning the juices over the chicken about every 15 minutes.  When done and nicely browned, remove everything but the pan juices to a serving platter and reduce that to pour over the chicken.  If your baking pan is flameproof, do it in that – otherwise, transfer to a saucepan.  This step is not in the recipe, but I think it makes a world of difference in capturing all those wonderful flavors.


And out of the oven it comes………..img_0930

 …and with sauce reducedimg_0931


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