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!!
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.
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.
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.