Jun 5, 2012

The Most Perfect Dinner Party Dish

If you have ever eaten Chicken Marbella from the Silver Palate Cookbook, you are likely nodding your head in agreement when I say that it is the most ideal dinner party dish.  Now, you may look at the recipe and sneer in disgust.  Prunes?  With capers and olives?  Brown sugar?  Fear not.  It works to salty/sour/sweet perfection.

Pretend you are a boho Spanish hostess in the manner of the Barefoot Contessa (movie, not Ina Garten), and serve with aplomb.

The lovely thing is, Chicken Marbella is so easy, and requires so little last minute preparation, that you will have time to beautify yourself and your home to Ava Gardner like proportions by the time your guests arrive.  Then you can twinkle merrily to the oven, pull out your fragrant dish, serve over some couscous, and let the compliments wash over you.

• 1 (12-ounce) package pitted, bite-size dried plums

• 1 (3.5-ounce) jar capers

• 1 (0.5-ounce) bottle dried oregano

• 6 bay leaves

• 1 garlic bulb, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

• 1 cup pimento-stuffed olives

• 1/2 cup red wine vinegar

• 1/2 cup olive oil

• 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

• 2 teaspoons pepper

• 6 pounds chicken boneless breasts and thighs
• 1 cup brown sugar

• 1 cup dry white wine

• 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped


1. Combine first 10 ingredients in a large zip-top freezer bag or a large bowl. Add chicken pieces, turning to coat well; seal or cover and chill for at least 8 hours (overnight is best), turning chicken occasionally.

2. Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two 13- x 9-inch baking pan(s). Pour marinade evenly over chicken, and sprinkle evenly with brown sugar; pour wine around pieces.

3. Bake at 350° for  45 minutes, basting frequently. (The original recipe calls for 50 minutes to an hour, but uses bone-in chicken).  Sprinkle the parsley on top.

I like to shred the chicken into bite size pieces.  This is excellent with couscous, rice, or even angel hair pasta dressed with Italian parsley and olive oil.  Serve with good French bread and a simply dressed crisp green salad.

NOTE- I just realized while googling this recipe that I have featured the recipe on the blog before-  check it out.


  1. Ava Gardner is my favorite.

    This looks divine - T is sometimes weird with olives, but he's been better lately about trying flavors he thought he disapproved of, so maybe I can give this a whirl! It sort of screams for a nice cool glass of white wine, doesn't it?

  2. Woah, that looks amazing! Thanks for sharing it with us :)

  3. Did you know NC has an Ava Gardner Museum? Look it up. Awesome.
    This recipe looks fantastic. Will give it a try, but probably just for the husband and I. Our friends fear the baby crying. HA!

  4. Love this recipe! Can you believe my sister-in-law tried to claim it as her original recipe?! Puh-lease. There was no fooling me; page 86 in my mother's Silver Palate cookbook has been dog-eared for decades! I love that most of the ingredients are non-perishable pantry staples...except the prunes, perhaps. Can't wait to host a dinner party soon!

  5. Definitely not sneering in disgust here; in fact, I'm pretty intrigued by this combination. It looks to make a large amount - have you ever scaled it down?

  6. Just found your blog and girl, this dish looks delish! We are having a dinner party in July and I will definitely be bookmarking this and using it then.


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