Chicken Marbella is a riches-to-rags story. The dish—chicken legs roasted with prunes, brown sugar, capers, olives, and oregano—was born in 1977 in the rarefied precincts of Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
From there it spread to the heartland, becoming a dinner party fixture and catering staple. You probably haven’t had it since your second cousin’s wedding in the Kansas City suburbs in 1989.
But in the hands of Yotam Ottolenghi, chicken Marbella is something else entirely—a crispy, salty, sweet, one-pan entree certain to be in steady rotation through the winter. In his easygoing new cookbook, Ottolenghi Simple, the celebrated London chef swaps the prunes and sugar for pitted dates and date molasses, reflecting his Israeli roots. In the oven they caramelize with the chicken, creating little grenades of sweetness offset by briny olives and capers and tangy vinegar.
“It’s everything I want from a dish,” Ottolenghi says. “It’s comforting and simple but really delivers in terms of flavor.”
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Makes 4 servings
- 8 bone-in chicken leg-thigh combos, skin scored a few times
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3⁄4 cup fresh oregano leaves, plus extra to serve
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup pitted green olives
- 6 tbsp capers (plus 2 tbsp of their brine)
- 16 dates, pitted and quartered lengthwise
- 2 bay leaves
- 1⁄2 cup white wine
- 1 tbsp date molasses (or standard molasses)
How to make it