Chicken Marbella is the iconic eighties dinner party dish with prunes, capers and green olives made famous by The Silver Palate cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. Briny green olives and capers come together with sweet prunes (or dates) to make the most delicious combination of flavours. Marinating the chicken overnight is essential to lock in the soft aromatics, but you could probably go to two nights here. Don’t skip this process. The texture of the chicken can alter when marinaded as I did with my recent chicken kebabs with yoghurt, paprika & lemon. The flavours penetrate the chicken flesh adding so much to the overall dish and a jerk chicken is not the same without this stage.
I have wanted to make Chicken Marbella for the longest time and looked to three well-known food writers for my research. Ina Paarman made a rendition using a few of her own products and having tasted it know it was delicious. I did, however, want to make it using scratch ingredients, so I looked to Ina Garten and Ottolenghi for inspiration too. They both use the equivalent of two chicken’s in their recipes (as per the original) but I wanted to make a smaller portion for two. I love the Maryland cut of chicken where the thigh and leg are attached. Not only is it visually attractive, but dark chicken meat is the most delicious part of the bird.
When deciding between prunes or dates and I opted for dates which are a bit sweeter but with hindsight, I will probably go with prunes next time. Either will work well in this recipe. I wanted a fair amount of cooking liquid to create adequate pan juices, so I played around with ratios that delivered this. I also used brown sugar and white wine as per the original recipe vs molasses as Ottloneghi did, or honey as Ina Paarman did. Ina Paarman slashed the chicken before marinading which I think makes a difference as I established with my tequila, lime & honey chicken recipe, so I have included the instruction here.
I opted to cook it at 180C for longer vs other recipes where it gets cooked at 200C for a shorter period. There was enough liquid in the pan to really take the chicken to almost fall off the bone consistency without drying it out. This Chicken Marbella is set to impress so tuck it away in your arsenal for the next time you have friends or family over.
*Cooks notes – A chicken butchered into 8 pieces would also work well in this recipe. Use the carcass to make chicken stock
Recipe Feeds 2 hungry people or 4 less soPrint
Chicken Marbella with dates, capers & green olives
A classic and succulent chicken Marbella recipe with dates (prunes), capers and green olives.
4 chicken legs, drumstick and thigh attached (Maryland cut), skin on ( up to 1kg )
3 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
4 bay leaves
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
6 prunes or dates, pitted and cut into quarters lengthways
2 Tbs capers
2 Tbsp caper brine
100gms pitted green olives (about ¾ cup)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp brown sugar
A few caperberries as garnish (optional) & fresh oregano leaves
Slash the chicken pieces in 3 places to the bone and place in a large Ziploc bag with all the other ingredients except the olives, the wine and sugar. Season with a little salt and pepper. Massage the bag to ensure all the ingredient are mixed and the chicken is well coated. Place in the fridge overnight.
Take the chicken out of the fridge about an hour before you cook it to bring it to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.
Arrange the chicken pieces snugly in an appropriately sized ovenproof dish with sides. Place the olives in and around the chicken pieces. Mix the brown sugar and white wine and mix to dissolve it as much as possible. Pour this over the chicken. Roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. If necessary, loosely cover with a piece of foil to prevent over-browning.
Remove from the oven and arrange on a serving platter. Scatter over a few oregano leaves or caperberries as garnish (optional).
Keywords: Chicken Marbella, recipe, dates, prunes, capers, green olives
Serve with rice, potatoes or crusty bread to mop up the juices.
A few of my other favourite chicken recipes:
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