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Jessie and Lennie Ware’s Marbella Chicken

by Jessie Ware, Lennie Ware from Table Manners: The Cookbook

A delicious Mediterranean chicken dish, combining sweet and sour flavours. Everything can be easily prepped the day before, and the chicken marinades overnight, making it juicy and succulent.

From the book

Jessie Ware, Lennie Ware


The first time I tried this was at one of many Sunday afternoon gatherings with our friends the Sweeneys. The moment it touched my lips, it was love at first sight. It gives you everything: the sweet and the sharp, salivating taste buds and the depth of Mediterranean divinity. This dish was my first foray into confident entertaining (I think all my university friends tired of Marbella Chicken by the third year). It’s a definite crowd-pleaser. I have even won over those irritating people who don’t like sweet and sour flavours together with a plate of this. Everything can be prepped the night before, so you can be the host with the most and assume the title of an ‘effortless cook’.

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10 boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs (4 breasts, 6 thighs), cut into large chunks (also see tip)
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp dried oregano or chopped fresh oregano leaves
small bunch fresh basil, leaves chopped
5 bay leaves
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
2½ tbsp capers
about 20 green olives, pitted
10 ready-to-eat dried apricots, cut in half
10 no-soak prunes, cut in half
2 tbsp brown sugar
generous handful red seedless grapes (optional)
250ml dry white wine
salt and pepper


Put the chicken into a large sealable plastic bag or a container with a tight-fitting lid, together with the garlic, herbs, vinegar, olive oil, capers, olives, apricots and prunes. Leave in the fridge to marinate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200°/180° fan/gas 6.

Tip the chicken and its marinade into a roasting tin. Sprinkle over the brown sugar and add the grapes, if using. Pour the white wine around the chicken mixture and bake for 50 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. Leave to stand for 5–10 minutes before serving. Serve with rice: we like this with Green Pesto Rice (page 64 of Table Manners: The Cookbook).

Tip: You can use all thighs, which are more moist, or all breast pieces – in which case cook for a slightly shorter time to avoid dryness. Alternatively, use only skin-on bone-in thighs, which may need a slightly longer cooking time.

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From the book: Table Manners: The Cookbook

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