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Chicken Marbella

There are many new versions of Chicken Marbella, an old party favourite from the 80's made famous from the Silver Plate cookbook in 1979. It has such a magical combination of flavours - always with prunes, capers and olives - that it deserves to be revived.

"Here is a chicken dish I LOVE and is always a big hit. It’s good hot or cold. It's based on an American cookbook called The Silver Palate (really great book) and we used to make it all the time at this B&B place I worked at in the summers during uni. Hope you get to try it some time! P.s - I never use coriander, just parsley - or nothing. Also, it tastes great even if you only marinate it a few hours instead of overnight"– Quimby Oddie.

Pictured: Chicken Marbella

16 chicken marylands - or 4 chickens, 2 ½ pounds/1.1kg each, quartered 
8 -10 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
¼ cup dried oregano - not ground
Maldon salt or other sea salt flakes, and ground pepper to taste
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes 
1/3 cup pitted Spanish green olives
4 heaped tbsp capers - I prefer baby capers
5 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine 
1/3 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped

In a large bowl combine chicken, garlic, oregano, pepper and salt, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers (no need to seperate from juice), and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight or at least 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.

Place chicken in a shallow baking pan(s) that allow chicken to sit in one layer to cook evenly. Pour over remaining marinade.

Sprinkle chicken with brown sugar which will caramelise the skin deliciously while cooking, and pour the white wine around which will add flavour and keep the chicken moist as it steams in the warmed wine.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices - as baster makes this easy, or a deep spoon.

Chicken is done when thigh pieces are tested with a skewer in their thickest part and the juices instantly run out and are clear rather than pink. 

Transfer the chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter and pour the remaining juices into a jug to pass around at the table - pouring a little over the chicken to moisten. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

To serve cold - cool to room temperature in cooking juices before transferring to a serving platter, or bring back to room temperature if the dish has been refrigerated - make sure juices have been poured over to moisten the chicken for serving.

Makes 16 pieces - serves 8 - 10