Mystery House

Chicken Marbella

You remember The Silver Palate Cookbook, of course.  Obligatory cooking in the 80’s; everybody had the book.  I remember making salmon mousse and Decadent Chocolate Cake for parties.  Bread pudding, zabaglione; my old paperback copy of the book falls open to the pesto recipe.  The catering company I worked for made endless batches of the wild rice salad.  And then there’s Chicken Marbella.

Arguably the most famous recipe in the book.  Which, being me, I never made back when everybody else was making it.  I have, however, made it once or twice post-80’s, and I can certainly see what all the fuss was about.

It’s such an easy recipe, and the result somehow seems like more than the sum of its parts.  You marinate chicken overnight with oil, vinegar, lots of garlic, olives and prunes and a few other things.  The next day, you sprinkle on some brown sugar and white wine, and bake it.  Really, that’s all there is to it.

I intended to take a photo of the marinating process and all the ingredients.  Didn’t quite get to that.  Too much on my mind, and into the oven it went, unphotographed.  As compensation, here’s a picture of it still in the pan, after it was done cooking:

Chicken Marbella 1

Well, some of it, anyway.  The rest was already on plates by the time I snapped the shutter.

Chicken Marbella 2

Doesn’t that look good?  Well, it was.  Kale is the perfect side, since its bitter note nicely offsets the sweet sauce.  And fresh homemade bread for dunking in the sauce.  Hard to beat.  And best of all, proof positive that not everything in the 80’s was a trainwreck.


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  1. * Chris says:

    *nom nom nom*

    Posted 8 years, 9 months ago
  2. * Carrie K says:

    Clearly the 80’s were not my cooking days, I’ve never even heard of that cookbook. It does look yummy though!

    Posted 8 years, 9 months ago
  3. * Lisa says:

    I learned to cook out of that Silver Palate book — that and Fannie Farmer. Good times.

    Posted 8 years, 9 months ago
  4. * Guinifer says:

    I wish I had a chef to cook for me…yum.
    I have one of their later cookbooks – the spine is cracked at the Split Pea Soup recipe.

    Posted 8 years, 9 months ago
  5. * kmkat says:

    How did I miss having that cookbook? Maybe because I was busy having 2 babies. Now that they are gone I should buy it 🙂

    Posted 8 years, 9 months ago
  6. * lisa says:

    Can you believe I haven’t made that?! I started cooking with the moosewood cookbooks, and yup, the old fannie farmer too (not the new one, the old one is better, ditto the old moosewoods)

    Posted 8 years, 9 months ago
  7. * bezzie says:

    Betty Crocker is my Messiah. But to each their own. You have chicken marbella, Betty gives us jello salads.

    Posted 8 years, 9 months ago
  8. * deb says:

    One of our favorites!

    Posted 8 years, 9 months ago
  9. * marylou says:

    And unlike many dishes in the Silver Palate, you don’t need a second mortgage to buy the ingredients!

    Posted 8 years, 9 months ago

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