Chicken Marbella-ous or how to keep loving’ the 1980’s

Chicken Marbella

I’ve been told this is a classic chicken party dish from the 1980’s. I was kinda busy in the 1980’s. I graduated from college, got married, started having beautiful babies, and was trying to blend two strong families together. We moved and stopped trying so hard. The beautiful babies continued for a decade. Like most newlyweds I cooked what my mother cooked. I started to venture off a little bit, and even had in my possession since the 1980’s, the Silver Palate cookbook with this recipe. I just never saw it. I usually looked at the baking sessions since I thought I had cooking down. WRONG!

The original recipe calls for 2 small chickens to be cut up. I found an easier and a wee bit healthier approach to this dish. I buy the boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I use about 5-6 pounds when I make this for a crowd. When I say “crowd” I mean about 8-10 people. You can increase the ingredients proportionately for a larger crowd. The chicken still tastes delicious and is less fatty. You can use a mix of chicken pieces. Whatever you heart desires. The magic is in the sauce.

5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or a mix of chicken pieces.

Cloves from ½ head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed

2 tbsp. dried oregano

Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

¼ cup red wine vinegar – I have also successfully used balsamic.

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup pitted prunes

½ cup large pitted green olives, cut in half

¼ cup capers with a bit of juice

3 bay leaves

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup white wine

2 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

In a large bowl combine garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers with caper juice, and bay leaves. Do NOT add in the white and brown sugar. That fun happens later. Add the chicken pieces and coat completely with the marinade. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and let marinate, refrigerated, several hours or overnight. I usually do this the night before. Oh the glorious smell you will be treated to when you take off the cover.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange chicken in single layers in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle brown sugar over the chicken pieces and pour white wine around them.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, uncovered, basting frequently with the pan juices. Chicken is done when the juices run clear, not pink. Just stick a sharp knife in the thickest piece to test.

With a slotted spoon, move the chicken, prunes, and capers to a serving platter. Pour some of the pan juices over the chicken and sprinkle generously with parsley. Serve remaining juices in a gravy boat.

I like to serve this with noodles or rice to absorb the juice. But do as you wish. We both know you will!  Don’t tell anyone there are prunes in this dish. I’ve seen some very funny faces when I divulge this. If you have any leftovers, they will taste even better the next day.


Here is the original recipe