In several previous posts, I’ve written of our Dad. (If you haven’t yet seen it, you may want to read: Orange Flowers. ) His influence on me (on us all) was enormous, though he didn’t even come to be my dad until I was already a gawky ten-year-old girl. His tender love forever changed me. We lost him a few years back, but his birthday’s coming very soon. I’m posting this recipe now – it’s one I think our Greek Pop would have loved. I’m thinking primarily of my family when I say this, but if anyone out there would like to prepare this on November 2nd, I’d like to think there will be at least one more smile than the ones you see around your own table.
This chicken dish is a common Sunday one-pot meal on the Greek islands, where chickens are raised primarily for their eggs. Therefore, it’s considered special – besides that, it’s absolutely wonderful!
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Baked Chicken with Orzo – Kotopoulo Youvetsi
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 4-pound free-range chicken, cut into 6 pieces (or the equivalent weight in pieces you choose)
- 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1½ teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or a pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cups grated ripe tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes with their juice
- 2 cups chicken stock, plus more if needed
- 1 pound orzo (you substitute elbow macaroni) – cooked in plenty of boiling salted water for only 2 minutes, then drained
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1½ cup coarsely grated hard myzithra, pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the chicken parts in batches until brown on all sides. Set aside.
Add the onion to the pot and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, oregano, pepper or pepper flakes and tomatoes. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and return to the Dutch oven. Add about 1/2 cup of stock, or enough to come about two-thirds of the way up the chicken. (You want to be sure that the breast meat is sunk quite deeply into the sauce, so just the very top of it sticks above. That will help prevent it from drying out.) Bring to a boil, cover and transfer to the now-hot oven.