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It’s time to modernize Chicken Marbella. Here’s how

More than 25 years ago, Chicken Marbella was the signature dish of the famous Silver Palate gourmet shop in Manhattan and the cookbook it later inspired. And it’s no wonder this chicken dish caught fire – marinated in a pungent mix of capers, olives and prunes, it boasted big and, for the era, unusual flavors.

That said, we felt it was time for some modern improvements. Instead of a marinade, we made a paste. After browning the chicken, we caramelized a portion of the paste in the skillet to bloom its complex flavors.

After deglazing the skillet with wine and pouring the sauce around the chicken, we transferred everything to the oven. Using a skillet with low, flared sides allowed more steam to escape, resulting in a concentrated sauce.

Once the chicken was half-cooked and the skin well rendered and browned, we added the remainder of the paste to coat the chicken. Last-minute additions of butter, vinegar, and parsley pulled everything together.

Chicken Marbella

Servings: 4-6

Start to finish: 1 hour, 15 minutes


1/3 cup pitted green olives, rinsed

1/3 cup pitted prunes

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

3 anchovy fillets, rinsed

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Pinch red pepper flakes


2½-3 pounds bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts and/or leg quarters, trimmed

Kosher salt and pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil

3/4 cup chicken broth

1/3 cup white wine

1/3 cup pitted green olives, rinsed and halved

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

2 bay leaves

1/3 cup pitted prunes, chopped coarse

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees F.

For the paste: Pulse all ingredients in food processor until finely chopped, about 10 pulses. Scrape down bowl and continue to process until mostly smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer to bowl. (Paste can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)

For the chicken: Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle chicken pieces with 1½ teaspoons salt and season with pepper.

Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.

Add chicken, skin side down and cook without moving it until well browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to large plate. Drain off all but 1 teaspoon fat from skillet and return to medium-low heat.

Add 1/3 cup paste to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in broth, wine, olives, capers and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits. Return chicken to pan, skin side up (skin should be above surface of liquid), and roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven and use back of spoon to spread remaining paste over chicken pieces; sprinkle prunes around chicken. Continue to roast until paste begins to brown, breasts register 160 degrees F, and leg quarters register 175 degrees F, 7 to 12 minutes longer.

Transfer chicken to serving platter and tent with aluminum foil. Remove bay leaves from sauce and whisk in butter, vinegar and 1 tablespoon parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce around chicken, sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley, and serve.

• Nutrition information per serving: 424 calories; 236 calories from fat; 26 g fat (9 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 132 mg cholesterol; 906 mg sodium; 15 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 29 g protein

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