Marbella, Meet Kumquat

By • February 9, 2011 12 Comments

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Author Notes: An invention of the 1982 Silver Palate Cookbook, Chicken Marbella has been a perennial dinner party favorite ever since. For those unfamiliar, the dish is a startlingly good combination of olives, capers, prunes, oregano, garlic, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, and white wine.

I have long thought that citrus would make an excellent addition to this already fun play on briny and sweet. When I saw baskets of kumquats perfectly in season at the shuk (that's the outdoor market here in Israel) I knew they'd be a match made in heaven. I was right.

In addition to adding sliced kumquats to the mix, I also added grated lemon zest for extra zing. The original recipe makes enough for 10 to 12 servings, and I'm still waiting for the day when I have an apartment large enough to host a dinner party of that size. So I cut it down to a more manageable 4 to 6 servings. The recipe is really very forgiving, so feel free to adjust based on how many people you are feeding and your personal preference.

I also (gasp) used large whole chicken breasts in place of the traditional mixed chicken pieces. Again, the recipe is forgiving, so use whatever cuts of chicken suit you. Finally, in the original recipe they stress how important it is to marinade the chicken overnight. Well, I was a little short on time. But 30 (it may have even been 20) minutes in the fridge and the chicken was still unbelievably delicious. Like lick your fingers, and plate, and pan delicious. I served this with couscous, which was just right.


Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 pounds chicken (about 4 large breasts)
  • 7 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pitted, sliced prunes
  • 1/4 cup pitted, halved green olives
  • 1/4 cup capers, with a bit of their liquid
  • 1/2 cup sliced kumquats
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  1. In a large bowl combine the chicken, garlic, oregano, red wine vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and liquid, kumquats, lemon zest, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least half an hour, preferably overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a baking dish. Spoon marinade over evenly. Sprinkle chicken with brown sugar and pour wine around.
  3. Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently (depends on the cut of chicken - it took about 40 minutes for the chicken breasts to cook).
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives, capers, and kumquats to a serving platter. Spoon a bit of the pan juices over and garnish with the parsley or cilantro. Transfer the pan juices to a sauce boat and pass around.

More Great Recipes: Chicken|Vegetables|Entrees

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Comments (12) Questions (0)


over 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Love your header. Photo is gorgeous. Dish sounds delish.


over 4 years ago kmartinelli

Thank you hardlikearmour!


over 4 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

Very fun! It astounds me how many of you who were not cooking when the Silver Palate books were published have found Chicken Marbella and make it when there's a crowd. Kumquats are a really good addition, maybe classic.


over 4 years ago kmartinelli

I guess it just goes to show what a timeless recipe it is. And thank you! I don't think I could ask for a nicer complement (re: addition of kumquats).


over 4 years ago Midge

Marbella is a dinner party standby in my house and I love that you introduced kumquats into the picture. Can't wait to give it a try.


over 4 years ago kmartinelli

Thanks Midge! I don't think you'll be disappointed. :-)


over 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.



over 4 years ago kmartinelli

Thanks! :-)


over 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Have always wanted to try the original. You're right, citrus makes total sense. Thanks for the recipe!


over 4 years ago kmartinelli

You're welcome, mrslarking, and I Hope you enjoy! Thanks for commenting. You can also check out the original recipe here:


over 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Love it! Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I am looking forward to trying it soon! ;o)


over 4 years ago kmartinelli

Thank you AntoniaJames! I made it for dinner last night and it was so good. I hope you have a similar experience! :-)