Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Greek Chicken with Potatoes

There was always this one Greek place that my parents and I used to go to when I was a kid. When you walked in, you could see those chickens rotating on the rotisserie...mmmm. As soon as I saw those juicy chickens I instantly knew what my order would be: Greek Chicken with herbed rice and potatoes. After culinary school I vowed to recreate the dish and used all my culinary skills to do so. I would sear the chicken and the potatoes, carefully browning on each side, then stuck it in an oven to finish cooking. Unfortunately, I failed, time after time...It tasted good...just not what I remembered. The potatoes were just not quite right. So after awhile I just thought that it's a Greek thing and I should leave it at that...
Until one day when I was getting my hair done at my hair stylist's house, who happens to be Greek. I smelled that familiar aroma in the air...earthy oregano, zesty lemon...I recognized it right away and said to her,
"Hey is your mom making Greek Chicken with potatoes?"
"Yup, you want some?"
"Bring it on!"
One taste of her mom's chicken and I knew I must have the recipe. It was just as I remembered it, except BETTER!
"How did you make this?" I asked her mom.
With her perfect Greek authentic accent, she explained the recipe to me. All this time, I was making it so complicated! In reality it could not have been simpler!
Stick it all in one pan and roast in its own juices with a bit of chicken broth. That's it! No searing and frying, just one pan! That very night I went home and made it...It was delicious, juicy, lemony and exactly as I had remembered it.
Just goes to show you...simplicity really is key :)

Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes

1 fryer chicken, cut up into pieces
2 whole lemons, zested and juiced
3 tablespoons of fresh oregano, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
5 russet potaoes, peeled and cut into quarters
2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

1. Pour olive oil in the bottom of a bakin pan to prevent chicken and potatoes from sticking.
*I used a foil pan so that clean up was a breeze! You also want to make sure that the pan is big enough to give the potatoes room. They should not be crowded, or else they will not develop the right flavors.*
2. Place the potatoes and chicken pieces in the pan and cover them well with all the zest, lemon juice and oregano. I also threw in the zested and juiced lemons in there. They make for a great presentation when they get caramalized in the oven.
3. Let the chicken and potatoes stand for at least 1 hour, just so the flavors get a chance to develop in the chicken.

4. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
5. Place chicken and potatoes in the oven for 30 minutes. This will allow a nice crust to form on the chicken and give the potatoes a chance to brown up.
6. After the 30 minutes, turn down the temperature to 375 degrees and pour in the chicken stock and let it go nice and slow. You may need to rotate the potatoes once in awhile to make sure that they are browning up and softening up on all sides.
*The point of the chicken stock is to partially braise the potatoes. They should about half-way up the potatoes. You want them to have a golden color, but still be nice and soft in the middle. If some of the liquid has evaporated, feel free to add more stock or water.*
7. The chicken will be done when the juices run clear. The potatoes sometimes take longer than the chicken. I took my chicken out after about an hour, the potatoes still cooked for 20 more minutes, just until they could easily be broken with a fork.

*The potatoes should look golden brown on the outside and when you break them in half they will be white in the center, and golden yellow all around the center! The yellow comes from the lemon and chicken juices. Sometimes when I really want to impress the guests, I add a bit of turmeric to the cooking liquid, it turns them a nice bright yellow and is a great trick for rice as well. People will think it's saffron!"


Peter M said...

Nicely done Mila...the high heat is what get's those crispy potatoes the way they are. Keep that Greek friend near & dear.

Mila said...

Thanks Peter! That means a lot coming from an actual Greek!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mila,
thanks for the e-mail (do you have a brother?..hehe...) any way, I enjoy the little story of yours about this greek chicken thing!
Looks great and I'm sure taste gooooood...
XO, Nina

Anonymous said...

P.s....my daughter's name is Olimpia, Athena...
(speaking of greek thing...)
XO, Nina

Mary said...

I love this kind of recipe! It looks and sounds delicious.