Recipe: Chicken Marbella

Chicken Marbella recipe Spanish food

A seventies dinner party favourite rediscovered.

Chicken Marbella supposedly first appeared in “The Silver Pallate”, a US cookbook. Though you have to wonder what the good people of Marbella did with their chicken in the thousands of preceding years.

The chicken is marinaded in a sweet and sour mix, then braised in the marinade. The end result is tender chicken in a tasty sauce. Ideal for serving warm as a tapa or at a barbecue.

So I was delighted when Mrs Foodie said, “Why don’t you go to Marbella and cook Chicken Marbella.” I was ok with that.

Marbella is one of three adjoining municipalities in Malaga region. The other two are Puerta Banus (where the big clubs are and Essex celebrities go) and San Pedro which is quiet and mainly residential.

Marbella spain costa Del sol

Marbella itself has a great seafront; loads of good bars and restaurants; and a very pretty old town. It’s not the cheapest place in Spain but there are good bargains to be had especially outside the main tourist season.

Marbella spain costa Del sol

Part of the attraction of Marbella is the micro-climate created by the Sierra Nevada. The temperature never falls seriously below 20 while summer days sit at around 30 with a nice sea breeze.

Ok… back to the recipe.

The Marinade

The sweet and sour marinade is spiced wine, vinegar and oil.

The Silver Pallete recipe called for a cup of white wine and a cup of brown sugar for the marinade. Why so much sugar? I think the Pallete writers were trying to recreate the sweet wines the Malaga region is famed for.

Chicken Marbella recipe Spanish food

You could use any sweet sherry and drop the sugar, but I decided to do iit properly with some Pedro Ximinez. The sweetest of the sherry family with 30-40% sugar in a bottle.

I managed to find some Rioja vinegar, but any red wine vinegar would be fine.

The Chicken

The recipe works with any cut of chicken. I used a whole chicken cut into portions, You could as easily use all breast or chicken thighs. If you like chicken skin leave it on, if not take it off. Slashing the chicken pieces will help the marinade penetrate.

Chicken Marbella recipe Spanish food


1.5-2k Chicken (thighs or pieces)

150g Green Olives

50g Capers

150g stoned prunes

200g of Pedro Ximinez or sweet sherry

150g Vinegar

150g Olive Oil

1 Bulb of garlic, skinned and crushed

4 Bay Leafs

70g (1 supermarket packet) of Oregano or Thyme



Put everything in a container and give it a good stir.

Leave it covered in the fridge for 24 hours, stirring from time to time.

Transfer everything to a roasting tin putting the chicken on top of the other ingredients.

Roast at gas Mk 5 / 190 degrees centigrade for 40 to 60 mins – until the chicken has browned and the juices run clear when pierced. The exact time will depend on the size of chicken pieces.

Chicken Marbella recipe Spanish food


Serve warm with the juices heated. Garnish with the olives, prunes etc.

And Mrs. Foodie…. about my expenses.


  • Old Father Foodie spent over 20 years working as a chef in and around the Glasgow area. He watched the rise of Lambrusco, the demise of the steak house and still remembers life before Mcdonalds. He then spent many years working on education projects in Europe. Still a keen cook, he has picked up the odd tip or two along the way and now enjoys sharing them on these pages.

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