Chicken Marbella for Passover
You know this dish, right? If you don't, I so envy you, trying it for the first time.Print
Serves: 16 pieces, Serves 10
When this recipe was first created by The Silver Palate catering and take out shop on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, it garnered an immediate following. When the recipe was published in the ground breaking The Silver Palate Cookbook, by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso, it was also a revelation, because of its eccentric ingredient list –Vinegar? Olives? Prunes? Capers? Garlic? Brown sugar? White wine? All in one dish??
But to taste it was to be converted, and so for a nice chunk of time in the 80s this dish made appearances on tables all over the country, sometimes for family dinners, but more often for entertaining. I grew up on this dish (my mother was an early adopter of it), and it was one of the first “grown up” meals I served to family and friends as a budding cook. Not too long ago I even made it to bring in to a kindergarten potluck for one of my kids, as a dish that embodied our family cooking. Side note and full disclosure, my father Peter Workman was the publisher of all of the Silver Palate Cookbooks, so I really felt like they were part of our family’s culinary history.
And for a long time it was the first dish on my Passover menu every year. But times change, and we move on, but this is not a dish to forget, or imagine to be dated in any way. The faultless and brilliant combination of flavors is timeless, the recipe is pretty foolproof, the chicken is unfailingly moist, and it can be made ahead. Make it again, if you have forgotten it for a while, or make it for the first time, and tell me that you’re not a card-carrying lifetime Chicken Marbella fan.
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 cup pitted prunes
- ½ cup pitted Spanish green olives
- ½ cup capers with a bit of juice
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
- ¼ cup dried oregano
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 chickens (2½ pounds each), quartered
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ½ cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1. 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 the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
3. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the brown sugar and pour the white wine around them.
4. Bake, basting frequently with the pan juices, until the thigh pieces yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice when pricked with a fork, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
5. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with the parsley or cilantro. Pass the remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.
To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in the cooking juices before transferring the pieces to a serving platter. If the chicken has been covered and refrigerated, reheat it in the juices, then allow it to come to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the reserved juice over the chicken.