Anita Dukeman's recipe for Greek Chicken and Potatoes
If you read my blog frequently, you should be well acquainted with guest blogger Anita Dukeman, who lives in Arthur and volunteers with high school students there, teaching them how to cook dishes from around the world. Here's her writeup. Her recipe for Greek Salad will follow tomorrow. - Meg
Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that I have been cooking for nearly 30 years and can still find myself getting excited when I discover a recipe that is really truly outstanding. To meet the “outstanding” criteria, a recipe has to be a little unusual and creative, easy to prepare with ingredients that are readily found at the average grocery store, and it must appeal to people of all ages.
This past week I found two such recipes, Greek Chicken with Potatoes and a Greek Salad. I raved about them to all of my “foodie” friends via Facebook and e-mail. My friend, Bridget, responded — “I could write an ode to this dish” — a well-deserved honor.
After taking a two-month hiatus from the “Monday Café” at the Arthur High School due to a family emergency, I was greeted upon my official return with the most welcoming smiles and kind words from the students. It was nice to be missed! On this particular day, I was very excited because I knew the kids would love what I had planned — a trip to Greece.
We talked about this fascinating country on the Mediterranean Sea and their people — the founders of democracy and the Olympics, their famous philosophers (Socrates, Plato and Aristotle), the unfortunate debt crisis they are currently facing, and of course — their food.
Like many Mediterranean countries, the Greeks incorporate ingredients native to their country into their dishes — lamb, seafood, sheep and goat cheese (feta), lemons, Kalamata olives locally grown in the city of Kalamata and olive oil. Lots and lots of it.
Olives have been part of Greek society for thousands of years. Olive oil is not only found in many Greek dishes but is used for cosmetics, medicine and religious and folk rituals, with many diet and nutrition professionals touting its health benefits. Greece produces more than 430,000 tons of olive oil annually, and most Greeks consume 40 pounds of olive oil per person per year. That seems unbelievable to me.
Following our “geography lesson,” it was time to put that olive oil to work. The students began peeling, slicing, chopping, mixing, and, of course, laughing — mostly at my choice of music we were listening to — traditional Greek music with a little bit of Greek hip-hop mixed in. They were truly having fun!
One group prepared the Greek Salad, another group the delicious homemade Greek salad dressing and a third group of students prepared the Greek Chicken with Potatoes. By the end of class, the aroma of garlic, oregano and lemon filled the halls of the school.
The students were pleased with the result: “Amazing!” “Awesome!” They surprised themselves, and me, with their willingness to step out of their comfort zone and they even took a detour from their beloved Ranch to try the Greek dressing with Feta cheese on the salad, finding that they liked it.
But the unanimous favorite — the golden potatoes! Those olive oil-laden beauties were even voted favorite by the students in the class that followed, who showed up a little early, anxious to finish the “leftovers.” Try this recipesand you will understand why.
Greek Chicken and Potatoes
1 3 1/2 pound whole chicken, cut up (or use breasts/thighs with bone in and skin on)
11 peeled garlic cloves, 6 whole, 5 minced
2 tablespoons dried greek oregano
1 cup olive oil
6 medium Yukon gold potatoes
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all of the juice of lemons, oregano, olive oil, lemon juice and the five minced garlic cloves. Place a peeled clove of garlic under skin of each chicken piece (about 6 cloves). Place in a bowl.
Peel the potatoes. Halve each potato horizontally and then each half into thirds. Each potato should yield six potato cubes. Place cut potatoes into the bowl with the chicken. Combine potatoes and chicken pieces with lemon juice/olive oil mixture.
Place chicken/potatoes on a sheet pan. Pour remaining sauce from the bowl over potatoes and chicken. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Roast the chicken at 350 degrees for about an hour or until the chicken and potatoes are golden and crispy. Serve the chicken and potatoes with the extra sauce from the pan poured over. (Scrape up all of the browned up bits - the best parts!)
NOTES: Be sure to use an 18-by-13 sheet pan that is about 1 inch deep. Do not use a 9-by-13 baking dish (the one you’d use for lasagna) as it is too deep and the potatoes will not roast properly and will be mushy.
Line the sheet pan with foil to make clean up much easier.
Be sure to use Yukon gold or yellow potatoes, not the Russet bakers. Russets break down during roasting, while the Yukon golds or yellow potatoes have a lower starch content and will maintain their shape through cooking, resulting in a better texture and prettier appearance on the plate.
I think the olive oil/lemon/garlic/oregano mix would be a great marinade. Put the chicken in one large Zipzoc bag and the potatoes in a separate Zipzoc bag. Add “marinade” to each bag, half of mixture for each bag. Shake to cover chicken/potatoes with olive oil mix. Marinate for an hour or two in the fridge. Combine and bake as above.
Photo by Anita Dukeman.