Chicken Marbella — it's worth the wait, I promise

Chicken Marbella —
it’s worth the wait, I promise


One of the nice things about writing a cooking column is that if you do it long enough, people start giving you suggestions for the next month’s recipe. By “one of the nice things” what I mean is this: It is a damned good thing people are giving me ideas, because there are months — like this one — when I have… nothing.

Thanks to a co-worker, let’s call her “Alida” (because that is her name), I not only got an idea for this column, but also a recipe I will be keeping and using again. In your best Euro-Spanish-or-at-least-something-vaguely-foreign accent now: Chicken Marbella!

First, as is par for the course when I am in the kitchen, I tweaked a few things from Alida’s recipe (She’s a chef in her own right, by the way. See for yourself at Really, and this is weird to say because I am an American, all I did was downsize a bit.

The hard copy of the recipe I used is apparently meant for a family reunion weekend where everyone eats. A lot. It calls for “4 chickens, 2 1/2 pounds each, quartered.” I went with skinless, boneless chicken breasts totaling about four pounds. What you see below, then, is the original with portions cut in half.

Chicken Marbella

• Several skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 4 pounds)

• 1/2 head of garlic, minced

• 1/4 cup dried oregano (eyeball it to about halfway full, I am assuming most people don’t have 1/8 measuring cups in their kitchen)

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

• 1/4 cup olive oil

• 1/2 cup pitted prunes

• 1/4 cup pitted Spanish green olives (Remember the sea salt/Lucy Liu comparison? Green olives are even more irresistible. It would be as if Lucy Liu asked me to run away with her and then added, “Oh, Olga Kurylenko is going to come with us. I hope that’s okay.”)

• An additional 1/4 cup pitted Spanish green olives

• 1/4 cup capers with a bit of juice

• 3-5 bay leaves

• 1/2 cup brown sugar

• 1/2 cup white wine

• 1/4 cup Italian parsley (or fresh cilantro), chopped

(Feel free to take a breather and Google Olga Kurylenko.)

The most difficult part of Chicken Marbella is practicing patience. Try. It is worth it. In a large bowl combine the chicken, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice and bay leaves. Cover and stick in the fridge overnight.

After a night and day of marinating, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and transfer everything in the bowl into a single layer baking dish. Use every bit of that marinade, too, to coat the meat. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the meat and pour the white wine around it. Bake for about 50 minutes and feel free to violate Gordon Ramsay’s rule against cutting into the chicken to check if it’s done. Once the juices run clear you are ready to eat. Garnish with your chopped parsley and have a taste of what has just made your house smell better than you can remember.

Chicken Marbella is a keeper. I am looking forward to cooking it again. And it wasn’t just me gushing over the food. My old man feels the exact opposite about green olives as I do, and yet, he ate them. He liked them! Three days later he apologized for taking the last of the leftovers with him to work (and he was still eating those olives).

Thank goodness for the ideas of others. By all means, feel free to keep them coming. I am reachable through my blog at

One more time in your best whatever-accent now: Chicken Marbella!

• Carson was born and raised in Juneau. He graduated in 2004 from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., and is scheduled to wed his fiancee in Orange County (don’t you dare call it “L.A.”) this year. He also considers himself to be a bona fide fantasy football guru.


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