Nora Ephron once commented that in the 1980s whenever you went to a dinner party in New York City, everyone served Chicken Marbella, from The Silver Palate Cookbook. This chicken is marinated with prunes, olives, capers and a stunning amount of garlic. There's a reason it was so popular; it's full of big flavors and is so easy to make. I revisited the old recipe, tweaking the flavors a little, and it's better than ever!
Technique tip: To peel a lot of garlic quickly, separate the cloves and blanch them in boiling water for 15 to 30 seconds, depending on the size of the cloves — the peel slips right off.
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- 1/2 cup good red wine vinegar
- 1½ cups large pitted prunes, such as Sunsweet
- 1 cup large green olives, pitted, such as Cerignola
- 1/2 cup capers, including the juices (3½ ounces)
- 6 bay leaves
- 1½ heads garlic, cloves separated, peeled, and minced
- 1/4 cup dried oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 4-pound chickens, backs removed and cut into 8 pieces
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
Combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, 2 tablespoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken to the marinade (you can also place the chicken and marinade in a 2-gallon plastic storage bag and squeeze out the air to make sure the chicken is fully covered with the marinade). Refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally to be sure the marinade is getting into all of the chicken pieces.2.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.3.
Place the chicken, skin side up, along with the marinade in one layer in a large (15- by 18-inch) roasting pan, sprinkle with the brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, and pour the wine around (not over!) the chicken. Roast for 45-55 minutes, until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165°F. Remove the pan from the oven, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.4.
Transfer the chicken, prunes and olives to a serving platter, sprinkle with salt, and serve hot with the pan juices.