Chicken Marbella

Marbella is a beautiful coastal area in Southern Spain, in the Costa del Sol region, so you would think with a name like Chicken Marbella, this dish would be a Spanish recipe. Nope. It is actually a Jewish-American dish invented on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the late 1970s, though it was inspired by Spanish and North African cuisines.  This delicious dish was introduced to us by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, co authors of The Silver Palate Cookbook. Ms. Lukins said it was a family meal often served at Shabbat and Jewish holiday dinners, that later became very popular with her catering clients.

Chicken Marbella is a combination of olives, capers, prunes, oregano, garlic, red wine vinegar, brown sugar and white wine. And, while not intended specifically as a Jewish holiday recipe, it fits the bill perfectly and has been a stalwart in Ms. Lukins’ family for decades. The Mediterranean inspirations are deeply felt, the agrodolce of the Italian kitchen is stacked deep in this dish and yet it all feels like the sweet and sour flavors of your bubbe’s kitchen.

I find or create recipes first, then learn about their history after. I LOVE doing that. To me, it makes the dish all that more enticing once I learn about it’s history and background. 🙂 This recipe just sounded really good so I had to make it. And guess what?! It is really good!!!! I will most definitely be making this dish again, and again. 🙂

Chicken Marbella

1 1/2 – 2 lbs chicken

2 TBSP brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp oregano

3 TBSP red wine vinegar

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 TBSP garlic

1 TBSP capers

1/2 cup pitted prunes

1/2 cup green olives, cut in half

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

I used chicken breasts, but you can use any parts of the chicken you like. You can slow cook this recipe or you can do a quicker version, on top of the stove. I did the latter version, and cooked it all on the stove top. It took about 20 minutes vs 4-5 hours in the slow cooker. I am giving you the stove top recipe.

Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, then season both sides with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper. Brown both sides in a very hot skillet with a combination of olive oil and butter. Cook the chicken for about 3 minutes per side until it is browned. Then remove and set aside.

As the chicken was cooking, I combined all the rest of the ingredients together, except for the parsley.

In the same skillet, add the olive and prune mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a medium heat and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Then re-add the chicken and continue to cook for an additional 7-10 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked.

Add the chopped parsley right before serving. I served this over cooked orzo, with some sauteed delicata squash, mushrooms and broccoli rabe on the side, with some warmed ciabatta and and more of the same white wine I used in the mix to complete the meal.

The flavors of the olives, capers and prunes just harmonized together perfctly. It was sweet and slightly sour and tangy all at the same time. Delicious!!!!! I will most definitely be making this dish again and again.

Have a great day and make everyday great. Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.


Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for over 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

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