Updated: May 8, 2021
I’m always intrigued by recipes capable of withstanding decades of changing food trends and culinary shifts- dishes so delicious that thousands of home cooks and chefs have prepared and shared them repeatedly for years and years. Chicken Marbella, the breakout from 1982’s The Silver Palate Cookbook, is one such super star recipe that has withstood the test of time: it’s just as delish today as it was back in the early 80’s (and you can’t say that about too many recipes from that era). For those unfamiliar, Chicken Marbella features succulent chicken pieces first marinated in a combination of Spanish and North African flavors and then baked to perfection. Herbs, garlic, dried prunes, capers, olives, and wine are all
part of the ingredient lineup (among other delicacies), and all components are used in abundance. I have been cooking Chicken Marbella for a while now and have always wanted to try my hand at a couple tweaks, hence I bring you Chicken Mallorca (named as such because it was the only other Spanish Island beginning with “M” that I could think of). The below recipe is unabashedly derived from the classic dish with a few additions and subtractions. The result is a little lighter (due to loads less brown sugar and oil) and easier to prep and eat (thanks to boneless skinless thighs instead of whole pieces). I also throw in a some fragrant rosemary and orange just because!
I’ve never been to Mallorca (it’s on my bucket list) but I imagine the flavors of the island are bold, bright and briny, just like this chicken. Don’t be deterred by the long ingredient list- it’s an easy and straightforward cooking process. The chicken is best when marinated overnight so go ahead and knock that out the day before (but if you only have a few hours, that’s fine too). The baking part couldn't be simpler, just make sure you use a very large baking dish or roasting pan so as not to crowd the chicken pieces. The meat is tender and juicy every time due mainly to the delicious wine laced sauce that the thighs simmer in as they bake. I highly suggest a side of rice or couscous- it makes the perfect starchy bed for soaking up all those scrumptious juices! I almost named this recipe “Party Chicken” since it makes for one heck of an entertaining dish. Try it for a unique and satisfying dinner party main! It’s easily doubled between two pans (portion 1 large thigh or 2 small per person). Vamos a Mallorca by way of Marbella!
prep time: 20 min. (plus overnight marinating if possible) cook time: ~40 min. serves: ~6
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice (~1/2 med orange)
1/2 medium orange, thinly sliced
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2-1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp minced fresh oregano (or 1 tbsp dried)
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
2 tbsp drained capers
1/2 cup cracked, pitted green olives
4 large shallots, roots trimmed, peeled and quartered lengthwise (or one medium sliced red onion)
1 cup dried pitted prunes
3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 10-12 thighs)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp light brown sugar
FOR SERVING chopped flat leaf parsley or oregano, couscous or rice
Place the first 15 ingredients (olive oil through the prunes) in large bowl and combine. Add the chicken thighs and stir to evenly coat in the marinade. Cover with plastic and marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hrs, preferably overnight, stirring once or twice while the chicken rests.
Preheat oven to 400° with a rack in middle. Pour the chicken and marinade into your largest baking dish or roasting pan. Pull the thighs out and unfold so that they are nestled flat on top. Pour the wine around the chicken and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top of each thigh. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the chicken cooked through. Switch the oven to broil and broil 2-3 min more to lightly brown if the thighs need more color. Let cool slightly before garnishing with parsley/oregano and serving warm over rice or couscous, or as desired.