I’m always looking for tasty ways to prepare chicken without having to resort to dumping a whole bunch of some random jarred sauce on top right before sticking it in the oven. No offense to the jarred sauces of the world at all; I am rather fond of many of them. But I also like very simple recipes that bring forth the natural flavors of the foods I’m cooking. In my Drunken Game Hens post I talked about how to make some very flavorful, tender and juicy game hens with a recipe that can also be used for regular chicken or chicken pieces. This particular recipe does the same, only with the help of a very simple marinade and lots of herbs.
Though I prepared this using a pack of leg & thigh quarters I’d picked on sale, this is also a fabulous way to prepare a whole chicken. Whole chickens may seem a little on the pricey side upon purchase, but their value definitely makes up for the cost. As I’d mentioned in the Drunken Game Hen post, rotisserie chickens sold at grocery stores now run about $7-8 per small bird. Pay about $1 more and you can get a much larger chicken that will yield more servings. The beauty of this recipe – besides the fact that it makes your entire kitchen smell amazing – is that you can use the finished product in a variety of recipes. Using leg quarters like I did (or breast/wing quarters if you prefer) you can build an entire Mediterranean themed meal, serving a nice piece of the chicken along with a crisp salad, some lentils or perhaps some tabbouleh, and some warm pita bread. If roasting a whole chicken to use the meat in other recipes, the breast meat makes for a wonderful, tender base for salads or soups. The possibilities are endless, so definitely keep this as another one of your basic recipes to have on hand for most occasions.
It’s best to plan this recipe, as the chicken will taste much better when marinated for at least 24 hours. When it comes to the herbs you use for this, if you have access to fresh herbs you should definitely use them! Except for the fresh rosemary (did I tell you guys they randomly planted some new stuff in our yard and I now have lavender and rosemary? Woo hoo!), I used dried herbs when I prepared this and the flavor was just fantastic. I’m actually still learning about when to use fresh vs. dried herbs, but I think this is one of those situations when either version will work well. If you’re a garlic lover you will definitely love this, as the garlic is placed between the skin and the meat to really infuse the chicken with as much flavor as possible. Of course, if you’re watching your fat & calorie intake you should definitely remove the skin, but because the garlic was roasted inside to begin with, you won’t miss an ounce of flavor. Other than that, there’s not much to note! This is a great, basic recipe, and goes deliciously with the spanakopita I will finally be posting this week.
Greek Herb & Garlic Baked Chicken (serves 4-6; totally cost per serving: $2.05)
Juice of 4 lemons
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t rosemary
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t sea salt
1/4 t basil
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 head of garlic
Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and herbs in a bowl and whisk together well. Break the head of garlic apart into individual cloves and reserve about 12 cloves. With freshly washed hand, take one chicken leg and place your finger between the skin and the meat until there is an open passageway. Put a clove of garlic between the skin and the meat and work down until it is on top of the chicken thigh. Repeat the process with a second clove of garlic, making sure it ends up in the middle of the chicken leg. Place the chicken in a large bowl and add the marinade, then cover and allow to marinate for at least 24 hours, turning every 6 hours or so.
When ready to prepare, preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray a cooking rack with cooking spray; add rack to sheet. Place the chicken on the rack and cover with a tented sheet of foil. Bake for about 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink on the inside. Serve as an entrée with dinner or use the meat as a base for salads or soups. Enjoy!