Monday, March 26, 2012

Chicken Marbella

I first got this recipe when I was laid off from my job several years ago.  My colleagues knew I liked to cook, and put together a cookbook for me with their favorite recipes.  The executive director of the chapter I worked with included Chicken Marbella, dish that made everyone in the office swoon.  He could use this to extract anything from anyone--they'd do anything to taste this dish.  (Lucky for us, he's an ethical guy and so did not use this culinary temptation for evil.)

You can find this recipe in The Silver Palette Cookbook.  It's easy, takes almost no time (except for the marinating) and makes for a delicious, moist chicken that is festive and appears to be far more complicated to make than it actually is.  I have made this dish using boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chicken thighs, and chicken wings (great for parties, actually).

If you're having people over for dinner, the complex flavors of this dish is a sure win.  It also makes a lot of food for people, so it's good for a crowd (though you can reduce the recipe if you aren't cooking for a lot of people or aren't into leftovers).  Because the flavors are so complex, you can afford to have a few simple sides--maybe some bitter greens or a salad and wild rice.  The meat is consistently moist, and the dish is excellent as leftovers.

Here's the recipe--it makes about 10 portions or so:

8 pounds of chicken (either cut up pieces with the bone in, or boneless, skinless breasts or thighs)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh cilantro, finely chopped.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red win vinegar
1 cup pitted prunes
 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives (I used what I had on hand this time, which were chopped olives)
 1/2 cup capers with a little juice
6 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Marinade: Combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Add the chicken and stir to coat.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Cooking: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly.  Sprinkle chicken with brown sugar and pour the white wine around them.  Bake, basting frequently with the pan juices, until the thigh pieces yield clear yellow juice when pricked with a fork, 50 minutes to one hour.  (If you're using boneless, skinless breasts or thighs, it will probably take about 40 minutes or so--check as you baste.)  With a slotted spoon, transfer everything to a serving platter, moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro or parsley.  Pass the remaining pan juices in a sauce boat.


  1. My comment doesn't have anything to do with Chicken Marbella (which sounds *very* good 'tho!)

    I just wanted to say, Pam, once again, how much I enjoy your blog. These articles are always very well written and have your unique voice (...and how did I NOT recognize that voice, right away, when you were just this mysterious "Feral Homemaker" chick, I will never know!) Whether a good recipe (like this one looks like) your humor, or your straight-shooting, it's always a pleasure to read...AND an inspiration!

    Nothing goes better with my morning coffee than a Feralhomemaking article!

  2. Steve, you are so sweet to say that! I enjoy your blog a lot--the recipes, the movie reviews, and the background stories. It's very much your voice.