Chicken Marbella

February 3, 2012

I have never had Chicken Marbella, but when I mentioned it to a friend she said that she eats it regularly and strongly encouraged me to make it. I made this “quick version” of Chicken Marbella for Thursday’s dinner. It took about 1-1/2 hours to prepare, which is the absolute upper maximum that I can possibly make on a weekday for a 6PM dinner. Traditionally a whole chicken is marinated overnight, but Chris Kimball had me use pre-cut, un-marinated chicken pieces. Chris Kimball says that the traditional marination results in flabby skin. While the skin here was well browned, the tenting in step 7 steams the skin so that it is no longer crispy. The chicken is flavorful, but the flavors are only skin deep. Fortunately there is plenty of thick sauce for dipping, but you’ll have to dip every bite. 4-stars.

Made in 1-1/2 hours with flavorful sauce.

Comments / Issues:

  1. This recipe is from the current issue of Cook’s Illustrated. It definitely falls into the category of recipes that I would not normally cook; olives, prunes and anchovies. But because I’ve pledged to make every recipe in every issue I had no choice, and am glad that I gave it a try. Both my kids liked it; even the picky eater.
  2. Chris Kimball says not to move chicken while browning the skin, but the skin stuck to the skillet and ripped as I removed the chicken from the skillet. I think it is better to move the chicken once or twice to ensure that it doesn’t stick, even if that means it’ll take an extra few minutes to brown the skin.
  3. Instead of pouring sauce on serving platter, I served the sauce on the side. Anyone with children know that sauce should always be served on the side, or you risk a hungry kid.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $13.50.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Started: 4:30 pm  Ready:  6:00 pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

1/3 cup pitted green olives
2 tablespoons capers
1/3 cup pitted prunes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves
3 anchovies
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch red pepper flakes

Chicken Ingredients:
3-lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
Kosher salt and pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup pitted green olives
1 tablespoon capers
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup pitted prunes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

  1. To make the paste, rinse olives and capers, and peel garlic cloves. Place all paste ingredients in your food processor, and process for ten 1-second pulses. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then continue to pulse for another 1 to 2 minutes until the paste becomes mostly smooth.
  2. Set an oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat your oven to 400-degrees. Use paper towels to pat your chicken dry, and season both sides with 1-1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and a sprinkling of pepper.
  3. Begin heating 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a 12″ skillet on a medium-high burner. When the oil just begins to smoke, add the chicken (with skin-side down) and cook until the skin becomes nicely browned; 5 to 8 minutes depending on size of the chicken pieces. Meanwhile rinse olives and capers, and slice your olives in half. Coarsely chop your prunes, and finely chop 2 tablespoons of parsley (which will be added in two steps).
  4. Set chicken aside on a plate, and drain off most of fat from skillet, and reduce burner to medium-low. Put 1/3-cup of paste in skillet and saute for 2 minutes. Use the wine and broth to deglaze the bottom of the pan, then mix in rinsed olive halves, capers and bay leaves.
  5. Add the chicken (skin-side up) and any accumulated juices back to the skillet. Try to keep the skin above the liquid. Bake in oven for 15 minutes.
  6. Carefully remove skillet from oven and spread the remaining paste on tops ans sides of chicken. Evenly distribute chopped prunes around the chicken. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes more until the breasts reach 165-degrees (leg quarters should be cooked to 175-degrees).
  7. Remove chicken to a clean serving platter and loosely tent with foil. Fish out the bay leaves and add butter, vinegar, 1 tablespoon minced parsley. Adjust salt and pepper according to taste, and pour sauce around chicken or in a gravy boat. Sprinkle the chicken with final 1 tablespoon of minced parsley.

Ready to go into the oven for a second time

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