This is one of the most traditional Greek dishes. It is right up there with Pastichio, Grape Leaves (aka Dolmathakia), Souvlaki and the most notoriously famous, Mousaka!
There are regional differences to this dish. This is my pearl of fact and knowledge for those that are not of Greek decent. Not to worry though, remember I have adopted you? See, this is how much I love you!! ♥
From what my mom and aunts tell me, the Northern Greeks make this dish with the basic lemon juice, olive oil and garlic etc., but they add oregano only. They tell me that oregano is readily found in those regions. As you continue traveling South, the variety of spices and oils will become evident. There are always secret family recipes that will never be shared, because if they were shared with you then they would have to kill you, blah, blah, blah...
You continue traveling South till you reach the Islands. There, my friends is where you will witness the most difference in the various spices and methods!
Since citrus is readily available in these areas, they use not only the juice of the citrus, but they use the zest as well. Since thyme grows literally like weeds all over the Islands, thyme is also used in this dish as well.
I have had both versions. I tasted and loved my ex mother-in-law's version which was from the region of Sparta, the mainland. Even though it was delicious, I still prefer the "Island version"...
Call me a traditionalist, or just call me biased, I prefer this Island version. I think it has something to do with upbringing yes?
Where I am going with this? Well okay, say you are from the Southern parts of the United States. The Southerner's know how to make grits, yes? I mean you are literally known for the most amazing grits. I love your grits!! However, let's call us "Northern's - Yankees" for the sake of a better word. We can and do make really good grits too, right? Does that make us better than our Southern folk? No, absolutely not! It just makes the grits a different version, yes?
This version is my mom's and aunts, with a little bit of Didi thrown in for good measure!! We have crisp tender chicken pieces just bursting with juicy lemon and garlic flavors!! Then we move to the potatoes, "oh my heaven"!! They are the most crispiest of potatoes that you have ever had!! It is the skin, trust me! It's just crispy goodness, yet they are amazingly moist inside!! An explosion of flavors in your mouth!! No, not "pop rocks"! I am talking about an absolute melody of yummy flavors exploding in your mouth!!
So delectable, that your mom and aunts tell you this is delicious and ask you for the recipe. Their exact words are; "honey, tell me what you do differently, it's like ours but different". You tell them, and they write it down, literally.
You know it's even better when "their guests" tell them how delicious it is and ask for the recipe as well.
This is the point where my mom and aunts tell their guests; "I would tell you, but then I would have to kill you"...
*Sigh* It's a revolving cycle isn't it?
Ready for the recipe? Here we go;
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 1 1/2 hours
Yield: 6-8 servings
3 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp dried oregano
Grated zest of 1 lemon or 2 limes
4-5lb chicken thighs or chicken drumsticks
6-8 potatoes quartered
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice (I use the juice of the zested lemon and add enough bottled juice to equal 1/2 cup)
*for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, see notes*
-Preheat oven to 325F.
-Rinse and dry your chicken thighs/legs. Season both sides of your chicken with 1/2 of your dried rub and place in a large baking pan.
-Scrub your potatoes, quarter and place in a large mixing bowl. I leave the skin on for extra potassium don't ya know!! *grin*
Add the remaining of our rub along with half of your lemon juice. Mix well, and place your potatoes along side your chicken pieces.
-Pour the rest of your lemon juice over your chicken pieces.
-Drizzle pan with your olive oil.
-Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. After the 1 hour has passed, uncover and pour off excess juices from pan. The chicken will release juices, you do not want the excess juice in the pan, because your chicken and potatoes will not crisp up.
Do leave a little juice in the pan though. It will marry and cook the chicken nicely! Meanwhile, your drippings will be amazing drizzled over your chicken pieces!!
-Place back into oven for 30 more minutes this time, uncovered. This will crisp up the potatoes and chicken.
-Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes.
-Plate your chicken and potatoes on the plate and using the leftover juices from your pan, drizzle over your chicken.
-Serve with a nice salad and a nice crusty bread. I mean you need something to dip into don't you?
*Notes: You can certainly make this dish with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, I have done this many times. It's absolutely delicious!!
The difference is cooking of the chicken versus the potatoes.
Place your seasoned potatoes into pan of choice, drizzle with half of the olive oil and cook for 45- 50 minutes covered with aluminum foil. After 50 minutes, uncover, place your marinated chicken breasts in between your potato wedges, drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Bake uncovered for another 30-35 minutes. No draining is necessary using this step.
An original recipe my friends, from my house to yours!!
Till next time!!
Dishin with Didi