I wish I could remember which chef said that lemon is the one flavor they rely on to perk up a dish. I think they used words a tad more dramatic, something like “why bother cooking if there are no lemons?”
Lemons are amazing. Their bright, sweet acidity does liven up many a dish. They prevent scurvy. Their zest turns a boring cream cheese frosting into a force to be reckoned with.
And did you know they contain more fructose than a strawberry? That’s a good one to share with the kiddos!
The other reason this dish is so amazing is the chicken itself. It comes from our friend and farmer, Pat McNiff of Pat’s Pastured. It was over a year ago that we roasted our first Poulet Rouge and realized that this is what chicken is supposed to taste like.
Wherever you happen to be, and if you are going to eat meat, I can’t recommend enough that you get to know someone who raises animals with integrity.
Then buy your meat from them and tell them how much you appreciate what they do. If they have family farm days, like Pat, please, please go! And definitely take your children with you.
Okay, now on with the recipe as promised. I want to describe it the way a grandmother dictates it to you and then I’ll list the ingredients. Use your intuition on this one because it’s a pretty simple master recipe that will tolerate a lot of variation!
If you have to decide, choose to be generous with the olive oil, lemon juice, and love.
Your kids will eat this!
Greek Skill It Chicken Recipe
First, make a marinade of an overflowing handful of chopped fresh oregano, the zest & juice of a lemon, some olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can pulse in a food processor or just mix up by hand.
Set this aside and cut your chicken into quarters plus wings. Rinse & pat dry, then add to a large bowl, turning the pieces to coat with the marinade.
Now pre-heat your oven to 450 and find a large skillet or dutch oven. It needs to be stove-top & oven-safe and as big as you have.
Take a pound of potatoes, scrub them clean, and cut them into thin wedges. Smaller potatoes, yellow, red, or fingerling, cook quickly and work best. Take one large red onion and cut that into wedges. Grab as many Kalamata olives as you like and have those at the ready, too.
Put your skillet on medium high heat with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Let it get a little hot and shimmery, then put your chicken pieces in the pan, skin side down, to brown for about 5 minutes, covered. Turn the chicken over, add the remaining marinade, the squeezed out lemon halves, your potatoes, onions, and olives.
Pop the beautifully filled skillet into your hot oven, uncovered, to roast for another 20-30 minutes. Check that your chicken is cooked by piercing with a fork to see that the juices run clear. Test your potatoes to see if they are fork-tender, too.
Serve your chicken with a little pan juice over the top and a side of vegetables or a green salad. Chard and spinach make especially tasty companions.
Ingredients (or Market List)
1 Chicken, 3.5-5 pounds
1/4 c. fresh Oregano
1 lb. Potatoes
1 large Red Onion
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives
Greens of Choice