Chicken Marbella Recipe

Chicken Marbella

Elaine Lemm

  • Total: 50 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Marinate: 12 hrs
  • Servings: 4 servings

Chicken Marbella is an iconic chicken dish from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso, first published in 1982. The book is famous for many innovative dinner party recipes with this dish a stand-out from that era. The dish fell out of favor but in recent times is making something of a comeback which is no surprise as it is not only super-easy to make, it is delicious.

The dish has a careful balance of sweetness (from the sugar and prunes) with the acidity of the vinegar and saltiness of the olives and capers which when served with either rice, pasta or even mashed potatoes to soak up the sauce is so good.

Nothing could be simpler to prepare, and a long marinate overnight (you can even get away with marinating in the morning and cooking that night but if you can leave it longer, do) all that is then left is to pop it in the oven to bake. No wonder this classic dish is making a comeback.


  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 chicken thighs (skinless and boned)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brine from the olives
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon of soft brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup green olives in brine (pitted)
  • 1 cup prunes (pitted)
  • 1/3 cup of caper berries
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.  

  2. Sprinkle the Kosher salt and a few good grinds of black pepper onto your chopping board and spread. Press the chicken thighs, skin-side surface down into the salt and pepper then roll each thigh tight and place in a bowl. 

  3. In another small bowl mix the garlic, vinegar, brine, wine and sugar and lightly whisk. Add the olives, prunes and capers, stir, then pour everything over the chicken thighs. Cover the dish tightly with plastic or wax wrap and place into the fridge to marinate overnight.

  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

  5. When ready to cook, lift the thighs from the dish and pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot but not smoking.

  6. Add the thighs and sear all over until the thighs are golden brown and slightly crisp on the skin-side surface. 

  7. Pack the browned thighs into shallow ovenproof baking then pour over the marinade, olives, prunes and capers. Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 45 minutes basting the chicken with the marinade from time to time. The marinade will reduce, and the chicken will turn dark golden and slightly caramelized. 

  8. Serve while piping hot with extra olives and capers on the side and rice, or a mixture of rice and quinoa, or pasta. The Chicken Marbella also works well with creamy mashed potatoes.

Seasoning Chicken Thighs

Seasoning chicken thighs, or any other meat by pressing into salt and pepper on the chopping board ensures the salt and pepper sticks to the meat rather than simply laying on the surface thus making a well-seasoned piece of meat.

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