Wednesday, September 24, 2008

From one sunny clime to another: Greek Chicken


Foraging for Monday's dinner, I found 6 skin-on bone-gone chicken breasts in the freezer. Then came a recipe search. I wanted chicken with a crispy, tasty skin, but still relatively healthy (fried chicken was "right out".) And it had to be one that I could make without going to the grocery store.

The recipe I selected is from the Williams Sonoma book Meats & Poultry in the series "The Best of the Kitchen Library." I have to say that everything I've cooked from this book has been outstanding. The recipe, as written, called for 2 chickens split in half. Since I had boneless breasts, I had to adjust quantities and modify the recipe's techniques.

The recipe seemed perfectly appropriate for our very warm, sunny, dry (ugh, the drought continues) early Fall weather.

Greek Chicken with Oregano, (adapted from Williams Sonoma - update: the original recipe is at the end of this post)

6 boneless chicken breast halves, with skin (around 3 lbs)
1/3 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 T. dried oregano
1 large onion (I used vidalia) cut into wedges
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1/4-1/3 cup dry white wine
10 oz baby spinach, stemmed and washed
fresh oregano sprigs for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 390 degrees

2. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano. Stir.

3. Brush the mixture on both sides of the chicken, and lay each breast skin-side down in a roasting pan.

4. Tuck onions and garlic among the chicken pieces, and sprinkle everything with salt and pepper.

5. Place in oven and roast for 10 minutes. Turn chicken skin side up, stir the wine into the pan juices, and baste the chicken.

6. Continue to roast until chicken is nearly cooked through, approximately 15 - 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven.

7*. Transfer chicken to plate and cover to keep warm.

8*. Place roasting pan on the stove top and reduce the pan juices over med-high heat until onions are slightly caramelized and juices are thickened to a sauce.

9*. Put chicken back into the roasting pan and place under broiler until skin is lightly browned.

10. Arrange a bed of spinach leaves on a platter and place the chicken on top. Arrange the onions and pour the sauce over all. Garnish with the oregano sprigs.


* Steps 7 - 9 are my additions. My version is a reduced proportion of lemon juice from the original recipe. In my culinary life, I have regretted using too much citrus juice but have rarely regretted using too little.

I served this with a side salad of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion, with fresh oregano leaves (from my herb garden!), salt and pepper.

The Verdict:

This chicken was absolutely fantastic. The oregano and lemon were a lovely combination, and the caramelized onions were delicious with the seasoned chicken. There ended up being a fair amount of liquid in the roasting pan, so I'm really glad I thought to reduce it. The resulting sauce was full of nicely concentrated flavors.


Since there are only two of us at home, I was able to freeze two batches of chicken for later.

Food in the freezer is like money in the bank... or these days maybe better!

{update} Here's the original recipe, slightly condensed because I got tired of typing. I wasn't able to find it online:

2 chickens, about 2 1/2 lb each, halved lengthwise
1/2 c (4 fl oz/125 ml) olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
2 T dried oregano
2 yellow onions, cut into wedges
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 c (4 fl oz/125 ml) dry white wine, or as needed
1 bunch spinach, stemmed and well washed (I'd use more for all that chicken)
4 fresh oregano sprigs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano. Stir.

3. Brush the mixture on both sides of the chicken, including under the wings, and place skin-side down in a roasting pan.

4. Tuck onions and garlic into the hollows of the chicken pieces, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

5. Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes. Turn chicken skin side up, stir the wine into the pan juices, and baste the chicken.

6. Continue to roast, basting with the pan juices, until chicken is tender and the juices run clear when a thigh joint is pierced with a knife, 30 minutes longer. Add more wine to pan if necessary to keep chicken moist.

7. Arrange a bed of spinach leaves on a platter and place the chicken on top. Strain the pan juices and pour over the chicken. Garnish with the oregano sprigs.

6 comments:

Audrey said...

I am with you about "food in the freezer" - right now, I have frozen ratatouille (gold), frozen pesto (why do I bother?), frozen vegetable soup (more gold), and, coincidentally, six boneless, skin-on chicken breasts. They would be so much happier in there if they could be Greek Chicken with Lemon and Oregano instead.
Audrey

Cathy said...

Yes, this is definitely better than money in the bank. I wish my entire 401K was invested in Greek Chicken, come to think of it! This looks perfect! I'm with you on the whole "a little citrus juice goes a long way" concept. Also, it's not every day you see a recipe call for a 390 degree oven! I'm so intrigued -- what would happen if I rebelled and went up to 400? Anyway, this looks wonderful and I will definitely be making it!

n.o.e said...

audrey, why do you doubt the value of frozen pesto? I just put another batch in the freezer and will probably get two more made before my basil succumbs to frost. We love it.

cathy, be the rebel! Actually, the original recipe calls for 400, but I ended up a bit cooler, but I'm sure it made no difference. My oven runs hot (I think, but wasn't able to confirm that because I purchased a refrigerator thermometer instead of an oven one) so I habitually turn it a bit lower.

I've added the original recipe to the post because in the cookbook the half chickens look like they'd be fantastic. They garnished with sliced lemons, but I just grabbed some tomatoes from the salad. It's not good to hold up weeknight dinners too long for things like photos.
Nancy

Amanda said...

Oooohhhh yummy! I will definitely have to try this, it sounds so good! I noticed you said you were in a hot and dry climate. Are you in NV or AZ? or somewhere else? I used to live in NV. :)

And thank you for the welcome to TWD, I haven't been officially added yet, just waiting for my email! Thank you for stopping by my blog :)

Audrey said...

No herbal disrespect intended! I love it (pesto) too - I just never remember to use it once summer's over. :)

n.o.e said...

hi Amanda! Nope, I'm in Georgia, which is often hot but not usually dry; our rainfall average is actually the same as Seattle's. But we've been in drought for years, and right now we haven't had rain since Tropical Depression Fay. AZ and NV are probably beating us these days!
Nancy