Skillet Chicken Marbella

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Chicken Marbella over Couscous

Chicken Marbella over Couscous

Cooking in my cast iron skillet…a new chicken recipe to get excited about…sometimes it’s about the simple pleasures in life.

When I stumbled upon this recipe for Chicken Marbella, I knew I’d love it. The combination of olives, prunes, and capers caught my eye, and indeed, it tasted just lovely. Little did I know, many before me have discovered the wonders of this dish. It is apparently one of the most popular recipes in the Silver Palate Cookbook. Well, where have I been?

Not to worry, I’m making up for lost time and have taken to making my version of Chicken Marbella frequently. What changes have I made? Well, mainly:

  • I don’t marinate the chicken (who has the time or forethought to marinate these days?)
  • I use my trusty skillet instead of a Dutch oven (for the record, I am accepting gifts of Le Creuset if anyone would like me to test this recipe using a Dutch)
  • I give the chicken a good sear in said skillet before it goes into the oven
  • And, I add slivers of onion on top which melt down and caramelize beautifully as the chicken cooks.

I stole the idea for adding the onion from another favorite skillet chicken recipe — this Tuscan-style number. In fact, this Chicken Marbella is like the Spanish Costa del Sol bestie to my Tuscan Chicken. Totally different flavor profiles, but similar preparations, and both are utterly delicious.

Chicken Marbella ingredients

Chicken Marbella ingredients

Each ingredient really plays its part here. The prunes impart a rich, smoky sweetness that is just spot on. Note to self: prunes are really under appreciated. They are seriously tasty and not to be relegated to strictly “practical” applications.

The olives and capers bring great briny saltiness to the party. Lemon and garlic play well with chicken, we already know this. Slices of onion, as I mentioned before, transform into gorgeously caramelized loveliness. Rosemary, oregano, and bay leaves fragrance the dish. Red wine vinegar punches up the acidity. Brown sugar makes everything better. And white wine deglazes all the yummy bits and creates the sauce with zero effort on your end.

Here’s a play-by-play of how this dish comes together:

skillet chicken

All good things start with a good sear

First things first, rinse and thoroughly pat dry the chicken pieces. Season both sides with salt and pepper, then sear the chicken in the skillet, skin-side down, until golden brown.

skillet chicken

Skillet chicken lookin good!

Flip the chicken pieces skin-side up, and add the garlic, prunes, capers, olives, bay leaves, oregano, and rosemary, distributing everything evenly. Juice the lemon quarters over everything and tuck them between the pieces of chicken. It should look good enough to eat at this point, but wait, there’s more!

skillet chicken marbella

Onions. You’ll love this addition.

Scatter the onion slivers on top.

skillet chicken marbella

EVOO + Red Wine Vinegar

Drizzle the olive oil and red wine vinegar over everything.

skillet chicken marbella

Oh yeah…D’Angelo this pretty chickie

Sprinkle on the brown sugar and slide the skillet into the oven for 30 minutes.

2011 Hot to Trot White Blend, 14 Hands

2011 Hot to Trot White Blend, 14 Hands

Take the skillet out, and pour the white wine over the chicken (no stirring necessary). I used this white blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris & Viognier from 14 Hands, a Washington State winery. Cover the skillet with foil and put it back in the oven for 1 1/2 hours, until it looks like this…

Skillet Chicken Marbella

Skillet Chicken Marbella

Top with some finely chopped parsley for hit of something green and fresh, and enjoy! I love serving this with couscous cooked in fresh orange juice instead of water. I add some orange zest to it, and a handful of roughly chopped green olives. It’s a perfect side dish to go with this Chicken Marbella if I do say so myself.


Skillet Chicken Marbella

An updated take on this classic chicken dish, you fall in love with the sweet, salty, subtly smoky combination of prunes, olives, and capers all over again with this skillet version.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 4


4 chicken quarters (legs and thighs)
1 medium onion
6 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pitted prunes, cut in half
1/4 cup capers
1/4 cup pitted Spanish green olives
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons dried oregano
3 sprigs rosemary
1 lemon, quartered
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine (whatever you plan on drinking with this meal will do just fine)
A handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Rinse and thoroughly pat dry the chicken pieces. Season both sides with a sprinkling of Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour a little olive oil in a skillet (or Dutch oven) and place over high heat. Pan-sear the chicken skin-side down, until golden brown.
  3. While the chicken is browning, cut up the onion into half-moon slivers, and peel and smash the garlic.
  4. Flip the chicken pieces. To the skillet, add the garlic, prunes, capers, olives, bay leaves, oregano, and rosemary, distributing everything evenly. Juice the lemon quarters over everything (catching and discarding any seeds) and tuck them between the pieces of chicken. Scatter the onion slivers on top.
  5. Mix together the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Drizzle this over everything. Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar over the top and slide the skillet/Dutch oven into the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. Pour the white wine over the chicken (no stirring necessary), and cover with foil or lid. Continue cooking for 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Remove from the oven. Top with parsley and serve.

Print Recipe

Disclosure: I was provided with a stipend and a selection of wines from 14 Hands to sample and use in this recipe development.

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Posted by Stephanie at 10:04 pm

17 Responses to “Skillet Chicken Marbella”

  1. Stephanie! You bad girl you. The sweet element appeared to just be prunes, but that scattering of brown sugar took it to the next level. We’re going to try our own version. :)

    Let’s talk cast iron pans. Do you have any tricks for cleaning your’s?

    • Stephanie says:

      Haha I know! So. bad. ;)
      I mean…I did cut down the brown sugar from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup! I’m pretty sure you could get away with even less or none at all, the prunes are pretty sweet.

      Here’s a great link on cleaning cast iron:

      I use a sponge in warm water, and actually just tried the kosher salt trick the other day and it worked well. Worse case scenario is you have to re-season, but that’s not too big of a deal.

    • Judi reigel says:

      Never let soap touch your cast iron skillet after it’s been seasoned. You can clean it with hot water and salt then heat it up and put a THIN layer of oil on it. Wipe most of it out! Once soap touches it, you have to start all over again.

  2. This is a beautiful dish – can almost smell the aroma.

  3. Tri Tran says:

    By pure chance (I promise), Chef Nicole Gimmillaro made Chicken Marbella for Munchery customers this week! Of course it sold out quickly! Check out the similarity in the photo!

  4. [...] Meal: Skillet Chicken Marbella.  A combo of chicken, onions, prunes, capers, olives, and herbs.  [...]

  5. Donna says:

    Wow, this looks soooo delicious. I’ll have to make this recipe. I also saved your Tuscan Chicken recipe as well. What size skillet did you use? I love my dutch oven! I do have a cast iron skillet but it’s a pain to clean (I rub with salt to clean the food bits and rubbed with oil to protect from rusting). 

  6. Clayton says:

     First off, I brown the chicken in 2 batches.   If you crowd the chicken in a pan not large enough, you’re STEAMING the chicken, not  sauteeing it. true dat!
    Your step wise instruction is great. At the end I add just a bit of cream to the sauce, after removing all the  solids from the pan. It adds even more richness and a yet a touch of sweetness.

  7. Emma says:

    I made this yesterday for a dinner party of 8 people in my BIG Le Creuset pan. Used chicken thighs and browned in batches, poured off much of the fat before adding the chicken back to the pan and then adding all the other yumminess. I didn’t add more olive oil, and used cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar, and doubled the amount of garlic, onion,prunes, olives, capers and wine. oMG the house smelled amazing, and it may have been one of the best dinner offerings I’ve ever done. After I removed it from the oven, it sat out, covered, for a couple of hours while I finished everything else. Still perfectly warm. I love dishes that can be cooked ahead. Thanks for this recipe!

  8. Diane says:

    Made this for dinner last night.  Delicious.  I have made the Silver Palate version many times. This is better and easier.  Love the addition of the onions.  Cut back on the brown sugar to 1/4 cup. Served it over polenta.  Will definitely be making again.

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