One of the most enjoyable, easiest mains to prepare has to be roasted chicken – be it a whole chicken or quartered like in this instance. This recipe is for those that want dinner on the table within an hour – ideal for a weeknight meal or even on the weekends if you’re looking for something flavourful and delicious.
Greeks do roast chicken well…very well. I always get asked how we do our roast lemon chicken, roast potatoes always comes up as a topic and even how to make a Greek salad! The key to much of the recipes in Greek cuisine is quality ingredients and in this case, I have organic grain-fed chicken quarters, Greek extra-virgin olive oil, good wine, and aromatic herbs. The three herbs used here are fresh thyme & rosemary and some pungent dried Greek oregano. Alot of the oregano out there smells like grass with only a hint of oregano. Find a good source for your herbs or do as I do…grow your own!
This recipe is straight-up simple, hard to screw-up and sure to please those at your table. This chicken dish is inspired by a rotisserie chicken I once had when I was traveling by car with my uncle from downtown Thessaloniki to his home in Pilaia (a suburb of Thessaloniki). On the way to my uncle’s home is the neighborhood of “Toumba” which literally translates to “tomb”. This neighborhood in Thessaloniki is also home to one of the city’s soccer teams, PAOK. Granted, the area has lots of options when it comes to eating establishments and on this occasion, it was rotisserie chicken.
My uncle was raging about a rotisserie chicken shop that was within site of the soccer stadium and that’s what we’d be having for lunch on this particular day. The aroma of the chicken snuck out of the take-out bag and tortured us until we got home. I want to break-open the chicken and eat it right there in the car. Patience and manners prevailed and what greeted us when we unpacked the take-out containers was sectioned pieces of chicken that were topped with grated cheese. Have you ever topped your roast chicken with grated cheese? The cheese on the chicken from Toumba had to be a Kefalotyri (a sharp cheese often used for grating or Cheese Saganaki) but for this recipe, I’ve decided to use a milder cheese in a grated dry Mizithra cheese. Dry Mizithra is a cheese made from the whey that’s left from making Feta cheese. Most Greek grocers carry dry Mizithra and I know you’ll love it grated with your pasta or on your chicken!
Roast Chicken With Wine & Herbs
4 chicken quarters (leg and thigh attached)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp. thyme leaves
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
2 Tbsp. of lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup dry white wine
coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Pre-heated 400F oven
- Remove/trim any excess fat from your chicken and rinse under a tap and pat-dry. Gently poke the skin side of the quarters with a fork (help the fat render and allow the marinade to penetrate the meat).
- In a large bowl or glass baking dish, add the remaining ingredients (everything but the salt and pepper) and lightly stir to mix. Add your chicken quarters and toss until well-coasted by the marinade. Allow your chicken to sit in the marinade while you pre-heat your oven.
- Place your chicken in a baking tray and pour the marinade over the chicken quarters. Season both sides of your chicken with salt and pepper and as soon as your oven has reached 400F, place the chicken in the oven and cook for 40-50 minutes or until the skin is golden-brown, crispy and the juices run clear. Take the chicken out of the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving, grate dry Mizithra (or other cheese you like to use to top your pasta).
- Serve with a side of rice pilaf or a bulgur salad and some seasonal greens. Pair the roast chicken with a Megapanos Savatatiano white.
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