Chicken Marbella

IMG_5880 The Silver Palate Cookbook offers the most well known version of Chicken Marbella.  Regardless of this dish’s roots from Spain’s south coast, it is their recipe that has made the dish well known in North America.  I have always used the proportion of ingredients exactly as written, allowing for a change of amounts depending on how many I’m serving.  It creates a succulent, slightly sweet, fruity chicken that is an amazing addition to a buffet, and works equally well when individually plated.

The cooked prunes & olives complement the chicken wonderfully.  It’s a good thing to serve a dish that surprises your guests.  I’m sure this recipe has converted more than a few non-prune eaters!

Don’t feel the need to add more, as the amounts of capers, dried prunes, and olives are perfect as written.  It is essential to allow at least 24 hours of marinating time.  From the first time I used this recipe, it has always stayed in my top ten ways of preparing chicken. 

Click here for printable version.

6-8 servings


5# chicken pieces; bone in and skin on (I’ve used thighs here, but a mixture of pieces or a couple of cut up fryers works just as well)

¼ c olive oil

¼ c red wine vinegar

½ c dried & pitted prunes

¼ c pitted green olives (if using large olives, just allow for an olive per piece of chicken, they can be brined, slightly seasoned, or even stuffed with pimento)

¼ c capers with juice

5 cloves of garlic

3 bay leaves

2 T dried oregano

1 t salt

1 t pepper

½ c brown sugar

½ c dry white wine

a big handful of fresh parsley – either flat or curly works – washed and chopped


First, make the marinade.

In a bowl, mix the oil and the red wine vinegar.IMG_5855

Add in the prunes, olives, and capers with juice; stir.

Mince or press the peeled garlic cloves, and add them in to the oil & vinegar mix.

Add in the bay leaves, oregano, salt & pepper.IMG_5857

Stir well.IMG_5858

Now you can do one of two things:

1. My preference: put the chicken into an extra large plastic zip top bag, and then add all of the marinade to it.  Close the top, allowing for a bit of air to be inside, and turn the bag a few times, coating all the chicken pieces with the marinade.  Place the bagged mixture in a clean bowl.  Put in fridge to marinate for the next 24 hours or so.IMG_5862



2. Add all the chicken in to a large bowl with the marinade, and toss carefully with your hands until it is all well mixed, and the chicken pieces are all coated with the marinade.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and put in fridge to marinate for the next 24 hours or so.

Turn the mixture, to recoat the chicken, every six hours or so, until it is time to cook it. Do this by removing the marinating chicken from the fridge, and turning the mixture to allow the marinade to recoat the chicken.  This is why I prefer the bag system.  It is so easy to remove the bagged chicken from the fridge and gently turn a few times, keeping all of the marinade close to the chicken, without any mess.  Return the chicken back to the fridge to continue marinating.

To cook:

One hour before cooking, remove the chicken from the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Line a shallow roasting pan, or baking sheet, with parchment. There will be lots of juices, so be sure to allow for them.  You could also use two 9” x 13” dishes.

Lay out the chicken pieces, skin side up, with a bit of space between the pieces.

Scoop out the prunes, olives, and capers with a slotted spoon, and tuck in between the pieces of chicken.

Remove the bay leaves.

Carefully pour the rest of the marinade over the chicken.IMG_5865

Sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken.IMG_5868

Slowly pour the wine over the brown sugar topped chicken.IMG_5869

Bake for one hour in the center of the oven.

Every 20 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and baste thoroughly





Check for doneness with a thermometer after 1 hour of cooking.

It should read at least 80°C (176° F), but will probably be higher, which is just fine.

If it isn’t cooked enough, give it another 10 minutes and check again.  Chicken needs to be fully cooked before serving.

To serve:

Remove the chicken from the pan to a large serving dish. Scoop out the prunes, olives, and capers and arrange with the chicken.  Spoon some of the cooking juices over the whole of it.

Sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Note: I didn't have any parsley, so have served here without.
Note: I didn’t have any parsley, so have served here without.

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