I’ve been eating this dish since I was a kid, my mom would make it in California and when I lived in Singapore our housekeeper would make it. When I started cooking on boats and looking for recipes to make I looked back to my childhood for inspiration, my mom sent me the recipe and I cooked it for the crew. But I’m a different kind of cook, I don’t follow recipes, specially when I need to scale them up for large groups, I focus on the ingredients and not really the amounts. Not following a recipe to the letter allows me to make it my own, make it tangier with red wine vinegar and extra briney from the caper juice.

The best part of this dish is the sauce, forget the chicken, well it adds flavor but I don’t have to eat it, give me the sauce and all the bits at the bottom of the pan. Those bits are capers, green olives and prunes swimming in a red wine vinegar sauce with garlic and oregano. Since this dish is all about the sauce it needs to be served with something that can absorb all those juices, I like couscous but rice pilaf or plain white rice are great options. I’ve been known to chastise people for not taking any sauce as they come through the buffet line, but at the same time if they don’t take any that means more sauce for me.

The one key to this dish is that it must be marinated overnight, if not it’s not worth making, so plan ahead.


Chicken Marbella


  • 4 1/2 lb bone in skin on chicken thighs
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 ½ tbsp. oregano
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 ¼ c red wine vinegar
  • 20 prunes
  • ¾ c green olives, drained
  • 2 tbsp. drained capers
  • 2 tbsp. caper juice
  • 3 bay leaves


  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a large container, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  3. Arrange the chicken into a large baking dish in one layer, pour the marinade and bits over the chicken. I tuck some of the prunes and garlic under the chicken so it won’t burn.
  4. Bake the chicken for 50 minutes to an hour or until a thermometer reads 160F.
  5. Serve the chicken with couscous and don’t forget to slurp up lots of the sauce.

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