Thursday, July 5, 2012

Chicken Marbella


Sticky sweet with a savory, garlicky tang. You'll lick the plate!

First, a diversion. I lived in Saugatuck, Michigan for 13 years where I operated my art studio. It was also home to Julie Russo of The Silver Palate Cookbook nomenclature. She and her business partner, Sheila Lukins, ran "The Silver Palate" in NY before an acrimonious split. Lukins died of a brain cancer in 2009, the year I left Michigan.

Anyway, Chicken Marbella, of Spanish/Moorish origin, was one of their signature dishes and popular recipes from their cookbook. I read so many rave reviews I thought I'd give it a try. I already love my Chicken Provencal which I often make. This seemed in the same vein, although I had my doubts about the combinations. I'm not a huge fan of green olives; I would have preferred Kalamata. But the dish needed some color and green it was.



Next time I may experiment a little. I could certainly see adding dried apple. And people often sub the prunes with dried apricots. A splash of Cognac would be interesting. Regardless, the dish really is worth the raves. It's a great play on tastes between the sweet and the savory. The prunes bake sweet and plump having absorbed the tastes of the marinade. I served mine with mashed potatoes to make use the flavorful gravy.

Just be sure to use large, meaty thighs, skin-on, bone-in. Split Cornish Hens would be nice, too, and great for a Christmas meal. The original recipe can easily be found on the Internet (it makes a lot!).

  • 4 meaty chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in, extra fat removed
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 cup dried, whole prunes
  • 1/2 cup Spanish olives or mixed olives
  • 1/2 cup capers, drained
  • 2 -3 bay leaves
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 large garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine


Mix the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers, bay leaves, oregano and garlic in a large bowl or large Ziploc bag. I recommend the plastic bag. Add chicken pieces. Marinate overnight.




When ready to prepare, add 1 -2 more cloves of minced/pressed garlic. I also added some fresh oregano. Arrange chicken on a heat-proof dish. I used a 10 x 10 shallow pan which worked great. Add all the marinade ingredients, except for the bay leaves. Sprinkle each chicken thigh with some of the brown sugar. Carefully drizzle the wine around the pan.




Bake at 350 degrees F for about 40-50 minutes, basting several times with the juices during the baking process. (I raised the heat a bit the last ten minutes to get a nice caramelized crust on the chicken.). Remove from oven and allow to rest 15 minutes.