Daily Archives: July 2, 2014

LEMON AND OREGANO GREEK BAKED CHICKEN..KOTA RIGANATI

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Much of my inspiration for cooking comes from the immediate world around me and this KOTA RIGANATI, Greek Baked Lemon and Oregano Chicken is no exception.  At a recent local Greek Festival (the Jersey Shore Greek Festival at St.George’s Greek Orthodox Church) there was a vast array of all the most popular Greek dishes here in America.  Although I didn’t chose it, the tray of Kota Riganati stuck with me and never left…( a food obsession indeed!) until I cooked the dish myself.  At the risk of sounding like that semi-homemade cooking hack Sandra Lee you will love the ease of this one.  The chicken is always on the bone, generally a full split chicken, which is my preference, but not a large one..or a whole cut chicken.  The bird is marinated in a mix of fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, dried oregano (Greek would be best!), Olive Oil (Greek would be best!!) and garlic. There is a harmony of all the ingredients, not too lemony, oily, salty, herb-y or garlicky.  I love garlic, I hate overuse of garlic where it’s the ONLY flavor you taste. Balance.  It’s what you strive for with your dishes with some flavors take front stage but not punching you in the teeth.  Make sense?   Good.

The dish is cooked with potatoes so I will include that in this recipe.  You will thank me for all of this!!

Let’s Cook!

This will feed 4-5 and will take up to 12 hours if you factor in the overnight marinating or 2 hours start to finish if you decide to not marinate.  Up to you. more flavor though when you marinade this.

3 lbs of a medium sized chicken, NOT an Oven-Stuffer type. either whole, but I prefer it split, or cut into 8 pieces

1/3 cup of Greek Olive Oil (if possible, if not a good fruity one will work, you want pronounced Olive flavor)

Kosher salt, Ground Black Pepper

2 finely minced cloves of garlic

1/4 stick of unsalted butter cut into a small dice

1 tbs. of dried Oregano  (again, be authentic if you can, find Greek oregano)

Juice of 2 lemons

1/2 tsp of sweet paprika

3 potatoes peeled and sliced into wedges or cubes, let them sit in salted water until you are ready to use them, you will do this on the day you cook the chicken

 

Pat the chicken down (sound racy doesn’t it?) with paper towels..season with salt and pepper liberally.  Whisk together all the ingredients except the potatoes of course.  Pour over the chicken in a non-reactive pan and make sure they are completely coated and sitting in the marinade. Cover tightly and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, optimally, overnight will impart the most flavor.kotariganati 005

If marinating for a longer period of time, take the chicken out of the fridge at least one hour before you are going to cook it.  This helps the chicken to cook more evenly.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Make sure the chicken is SKIN SIDE UP or you risk having rubber chicken skin which is foul (or fowl in this case..sorry, couldn’t resist that corny joke).  Place into the middle rack of the oven and check on it in 15 minutes.  Is it browning yet?  If not, close the oven and at the 20 minute mark you should definitely have started browning on the skin.  At this point add the potatoes to the bottom of the pan around the chicken and lower the heat to 325 degrees F.  Make sure the potatoes are all coated in the juices.  Top the chicken with the butter pieces , season with 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper and bake uncovered for 1 to 1 1/4 hours .  The chicken juices should run clear and the potatoes should be browned on top and very tender.  That’s it. You are done…a nice Greek Wine with this, a spinach salad maybe? It’s really very delicious.

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I like my cooking to take me back to somewhere I’ve been or where I’d like to go. Imagine yourself on a terrace in Fira, Santorini looking out at the Mediterranean Sea (actually the Aegean) and sit back and relax..You can certainly imagine that from you kitchen table.  This pic was taken in August of 2006 on a family trip to the Greek Isles.

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FIGS STUFFED WITH THYME, CHEESE, AND SPICE, WRAPPED IN PROSCIUTTO AND BAKED

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Summer’s fruits are making their way into our homes thanks to all the great farms and home gardens out there.  The exotic Fig is one of my most anticipated market choices every Summer..reminds me of sitting at my Grandma Battaglia’s table in Staten Island.  She prized her bountiful fig trees with their nectar laden fruits, sometimes so sweet that the ants would get to the figs before Grandma did.  Us grandkids never were allowed to pick them, we could pick the Concord Grapes and the Peaches, Pears, Cherries, Apples and Mulberries but never the figs.  Grandma did that.  She’d pick them and gently swaddle them in her housecoat apron, you know, the kind Grandmas in the 60’s and 70’s wore.  Yes, there were a few stains from Sunday sauce on them too. Nothing ever is as good as a juicy sweet fresh picked fig but alas, we all do not have that luxury.  Most of us need to buy them and one of the most popular restaurant uses of fresh figs is to stuff them with a soft cheese and wrap them in a cured piece of pork. They are then baked which turns them into a caramelized salty and sweet creamy crunchy smoky vessel of fig love that is a great way to start a meal or have with cocktails, tapas style.  Whoever came up with this idea needs a James Beard or other appropriate award for excellence.  Damn delicious.  A million ways to make these and in true A Food Obsession fashion here’s my way of preparing them.  Let’s Cook!

For 4 people 3 figs per person works, they are rich…figure about 30-40 minutes total prep and cooking time.

12 large ripe figs, look for ones that are soft but not mushy (ie: overripe, those are great to pop in your mouth but not for this dish) slice in half but still attached at the bottom.

1/2 cup softened goat cheese

1 tbs Mascarpone

2 sprigs of fresh thyme (FRESH, not dried) swipe you fingers down the sprig to release all the leaves, also, have on hand another 3 sprigs for garnishing.

1/8 tsp. ground allspice

pinch of kosher salt

1 tbs. of good local honey

1 tsp. of grated shallot

fresh ground black pepper

1/4 lb of sliced prosciutto, thin, sliced into long strips

for the honeyed walnuts:

1 tbs. unsalted butter

2 tbs. of good local honey

pinch of kosher salt

1/8 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

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Make the Cheese filling:  Mix everything t except the prosciutto together till blended.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Fill each fig with the cheese and then wrap with a strip of the prosciutto.  I like doing these on a foil covered baking sheet pan.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Pop them into the oven for about 10 minutes.

While they are baking, in a cast iron pan, “toast” the chopped walnuts moving the nuts around the pan, nuts burn really quickly..after about 2 minutes (over medium heat) add the honey, salt and the butter and let this just come to a light bubble..then reduce and mix the nuts into the melted butter/honey mixture.  Turn off heat.  Remove the baked figs from the oven.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Gently place them on a serving plate…and garnish with the ground black pepper to taste, and the place a few of the honeyed walnuts around the figs, a few drops of the warm honey and butter and some whole sprigs of thyme for color and aroma.

Done.  Amazing.  Like a High End Trendy spot in NYC.  Right here in your own kitchen.

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