Chicken Marbella revival

This wildly popular entertaining dish from the 1980s is just as good 30 years later. This version, adapted from the classic Silver Palate Cookbook, uses boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which cook quickly and are tender and durable for a dinner buffet.


  • 6 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
  • 1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley or cilantro, chopped


  1. Marinate a few hours ahead or overnight if you can. In a bowl, combine garlic, oregano, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives (halved if you like), bay leaves and capers with juice. Rinse and dry chicken, trimming if necessary, and put in a large bowl. Season well with salt (5 teaspoons kosher salt; half that if using table salt) and pepper to taste. Add marinade and mix in well. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over. Keep solids off the chicken for better browning. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Chicken is done when juices run clear yellow (not pink) when pricked with a fork at their thickest part.
  5. Transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.

Serves 12.


  • Chicken thighs stay moist for entertaining and reheating. I think using skinless allows the marinade to permeate the meat more effectively. Boneless cooks quickly, but bone-in is always great for flavor. For bone-in chicken pieces, this recipe makes 10 pounds, cooked at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes.
  • You may cook the thighs a bit faster at 425 degrees F, as recommended by Faith Durand at the Kitchn. 400 degrees is a bit more forgiving if like me you tend to lose track of time.
  • This is a strongly flavored dish, so it’s very forgiving to ingredient modification or substitution. You could use apple cider vinegar instead or red wine vinegar, or dried apricots for prunes. If you don’t have capers, use more olives, or vice versa. Dry vermouth is always a good substitute for white wine.
  • Chicken Marbella is great served hot, room temperature or cold. Makes excellent picnic fare.
  • Half-recipe for 6: 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (season with 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and pepper to taste), 5-6 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons dried oregano, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup pitted prunes, 1/4 cup pitted Spanish green olives, 1/4 cup capers with juice, 3 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/2 cup white wine, 2 tablespoons Italian parsley or cilantro.

Here’s a link back to the post and pictures.

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