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Monday, November 8, 2010

A Chicken In Every Pot: Spatchcock Chicken

Greece is one of the few countries in Europe that both Michael and I have visited.  He spent a summer in Europe with a study abroad program  during college and made several trips to Greece during his summer overseas.  I spent a few weeks in Greece on an extended layover during my family's fare-well tour of Europe before our permanent return to America. Michael and I had very different take-aways from our experiences in Greece.  His  flowed with Sambuca, gorgeous views of the Mediterranean, youth hostels, and countless nights in Santorini nightclubs.  Mine were based on  hotel room service baklava and the cute outfits the Presidential Guard wore while guarding The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier; Red berets sporting long  black tassels, short white ruffled skirts over white leotards with gigantic black pom-poms attatched to their shoes. I was captivated.  My father finally  bought me a Presidential Guard doll to quell my obsession. True.

Michael and I bring our individual Greek experiences together with food and drink.  We both share a love for Greek food, devouring briny black un-pitted olives, tangy feta cheese, and fried calamari showered with lemon juice whenever we can.  To this day, when dining out, we finish every meal with espresso or Greek coffee and a shot of Sambuca (with three floating coffee beans).

Last night, I brought the flavors of Greece into our home with oven roasted chicken infused with lemon, oregano, olive oil, and garlic.  Classic Greek Chicken.

It was embarrassingly simple to prepare.

 First, I spatchcocked a whole chicken. Ok, ok,  I butterflied a whole chicken by cutting out the backbone and cracking the breast bones to allow the chicken to lie flat.  Spatchcocking promotes even and quicker cooking along with very moist meat.  After spatchcocking the bird, I lowered it into a roasting pan with quartered peeled potatoes, sliced onions, and sliced celery.

I poured 1/2 cup olive oil over the chicken and potatoes along with the juice of 2 fresh squeezed lemons.  After liberally seasoning the chicken with salt, pepper, and 3  tablespoons of dried Greek oregano, I grated 5 cloves of garlic over the chicken before massaging the seasonings into the meat and skin.  Before sliding the chicken into a 350 oven to roast for 2 hours, I sprinkled fresh oregano over the chicken and added 1/2 cup of chicken broth to the pan for moist roasting.  After 1 1/2 hours, I brushed the chicken with melted butter to aid in the browning before returning it to the oven to crisp up and caramelize. 
The aroma from the onions, garlic, oregano, lemon, and chicken was utterly intoxicating. It smelled like Sunday supper on steroids.

Basically, Greek chicken is a meat and potatoes meal.  I didn't want to muck it up with a bunch of other competing elements, but I knew it would need something fresh to accompany it.  I made a gorgeous carrot ribbon salad tossed in a white balsamic vinaigrette with fresh parsley and chopped macadamia nuts.


 The chicken was falling-off-the-bone tender and incredibly moist.  Juicy and  messy moist.  The onions and celery practically disintegrated into the pan sauce allowing the bright lemon juice and pungent garlic to sweeten and mellow during the long roasting time. The potato quarters remained crisp and brown even after absorbing the pan drippings and were packed with flavor.  The Greek oregano took center stage permeating the chicken,  potatoes, and  pan juices with amazing perfumed  flavor, totally elevating itself  beyond mundane Italian pasta sauce seasoning or pizza topping. 

The carrot ribbon salad was light and crisp. The crunchy carrots napped in a bright vinaigrette with grassy   parsley provided needed soothing freshness and acidic balance.  

Tonight?  Leftovers. 

Hopefully, with Sambuca to follow. 

Oros, Greek for mountain; Ganos, Greek for joy.

Oregano.  Joy of the mountain.

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