by Debra Wysopal

This is one is a have to do – because of all the recipes I test, this is by far the best surprise. Truly, and believe me: Chicken with olives, prunes and capers?  I was not sold. In fact, I think I recoiled a bit-until I saw that it consistently had 5 billion 4 star reviews on every single site I referenced. A brief history; this is the iconic recipe from the Silver Palate Cookbook.  It feeds an army, and there wasn’t a prune or olive left on the platter. That right there is all you need to know.  The recipe I’m posting is verbatim from the book with my notes and tips.

Serves: 10
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 5 voted )


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
  • 1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), quartered *(you can ask your butcher to quarter this for you – my butcher John turned this out in a flash, with a smile)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh



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.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Make sure the racks are on the second to bottom and second to top racks.  

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.

Note about the wine: Use only wine you would drink.  The chicken should have a nice coat of sugar on it, be careful to pour the wine carefully around the chicken. You do not want to wash off the sugar.  You do want to drink some wine, so pour yourself a glass.

Note about the pan:  I easily used two sheet pans. Be sure your pans are shallow, meaning, that they have edges as you will be pouring in the wine.

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.

Note about basting:  I forgot to baste. It was fantastic anyway.

Note about cooking:  You want the internal temp of the thighs to 160 -165 degrees. It will continue to cook as it rests. The juices must run clear.  Rotate the pans halfway through – meaning, move the bottom one up and turn.  Take the top one down, turn.  45 minutes into the cooking, I removed the lower pan and cranked the oven to broil.  Stay glued to the oven when you broil and watch it. Do not leave, or you will burn the shit out of your dinner.  Got it?

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.

Note on Gravy:  I defatted my gravy by simply pouring the fat on the top into the bushes. I know, classy.  You can defat yours by using one of these, paper towels or even a lettuce leaf.  Or you can slow pour it out into the bushes. But, do not pour it down your drain.  No fat in the drain.  The original recipe didn’t call for the gravy to be defatted, so your choice.

Cookbook Note: 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.

I served this one to rave reviews with a simple rice pilaf and blistered string beans.





Notes: Pureed Garlic: You can use jarred pureed garlic but it is easy to puree it yourself. It’s a head of garlic, about 8 cloves. Peel and use a garlic press or chop with knife until fine and flatten/press with side of knife. Or put in a small mini-prep food processor (I use mine all the time). Chicken: You can use the same weight of leg joints, wings and thighs, or even breasts but you need bone in/skin on. SEASON YOUR CHICKEN liberally with salt and pepper. Olives: Use pitted green olives from a salad bar or jarred. Be sure they are not stuffed with anything.

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1 comment

Leah Butler April 4, 2020 - 8:19 pm

An absolute favorite in our household. Have made it twice already in quarantine! Thanks for posting Deb!!b

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