72 Hour Chicken Marbella

  • Prep Time
    30 minutes
  • Cook Time
    1 hour
  • Serving
  • View


When this recipe for Chicken Marbella was printed in The New York Times a few years ago, the following blurb was attached:  If there’s such a thing as boomer cuisine, it can be found in the pages of “The Silver Palate Cookbook” by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso. With its chirpy tone and “Moosewood”-in-the-city illustrations, the book, published in time for Mother’s Day in 1982, gave millions of home cooks who hadn’t mastered the art of French cooking the courage to try sophisticated dishes like escabeche, wild mushroom soup and that new thing called pesto. This recipe, also in the book, came to The Times in a 2007 article celebrating the 25th anniversary edition. The briny-sweet combination once seemed as risky (capers! prunes!) as the East Village, but now it’s considered as classic as Grand Central. —Christine Muhlke

The Silver Palate Cookbook (1982) remains one of my favorite cookbooks. It is one of those recipe collections that I refer to time and again, sometimes to get a basic/jumping off point for a complicated recipe ike coq au vin or French onion soup.  I have been cooking out of this book since it was published. Everything about the book, from the glossy pages, trendy font and cool illustrations is aesthetically attractive.  The recipe instructions are clear and concise.  The side-bars on the margins of the pages are full of fun information about how to pair wine with food, how to create a cheese board, things you need to know about sourcing slightly exotic ingredients, entertaining, etc.  Did you know that in the early 1800’s, women wore the green leafy tops of carrots in their hats as decoration?  You would know that if you have a Silver Palate cookbook!!!

Now, I have a few things to say about this recipe.  I marinated the split chicken overnight, following the recipe precisely.  Well, almost.  I used a whole head of roasted garlic instead of mincing fresh garlic.  And, I added a little white balsamic oregano vinegar to the marinade.  Then, I baked the chicken the following night and served it with a cheese grits casserole.  To say I was underwhelmed by this famous chicken dish would be an understatement.  In fact, the next morning I googled the recipe again only to find that after its publication in 1982 it still draws almost unanimous rave reviews.  I kept thinking, “I don’t get it – the skin was flabby and it tasted like an oregano bomb!”  And then it occurred to me that when Rosso and Lukins sold this chicken as a prepared dish at their Silver Palate store, they probably cooked it, cooled it, and sold it packaged… after the flavors had a chance to “marry.”  So, I decided to reheat my leftovers for dinner Saturday night and voila! The dish was fantastic!  The oregano had softened; the prunes were fruity; the brown sugar and olives somehow blended to create a uniquely Greek-y sweet and savory-ness.  A good hunk of crusty bread is a must to sop up the sauce.  I followed a tip I found on the internet and broiled the chicken for five minutes which resulted in skin that wasn’t exactly crispy but it wasn’t flabby either.  I had nearly decided not to post this recipe because I couldn’t say I loved it.  Guess what?  I love it now.  Best left-overs ever.  (Next time, I might try boneless chicken thighs just to make the portions smaller and easier to eat).




Chicken Marbella


    You MUST allow the chicken to marinate overnight in order to achieve the moistness that makes this recipe great.

    Step 1

    Place chicken in a large casserole. Pour all ingredients except the wine/sugar/cilantro over the chicken. Turn the chicken over so that it is meat side down. Cover the dish with Saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.

    Step 2

    Pour the sugar and wine over the chicken. Pour the wine around and NOT ON the chicken.

    Step 3

    Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. If the skin seems too flabby, put it under the broiler for 5 minutes or so.

    Step 4

    Sprinkle the dish with chopped cilantro and serve with crusty bread!

    Step 5

    Note: I strongly recommend allowing the dish to cool, then wrapping and refrigerating overnight. This dish tasted MUCH BETTER when reheated the night after I cooked it.

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