Greek Chicken

In a past life, I must have lived in Greece because I love anything Greek.

Its food, its wine, its culture are all among my favorites. Its economy? Okay, maybe not so much.

I even love that movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. “If you give me any word, any word at all, I … will show you … how its root … is Greek!” That scene still cracks me up!

In cooking, some of my favorite ingredients that I use the most are from Greece. I’m always willing to pay a little more for authentic Greek extra virgin olive oil, or for the creamy Feta cheese imported from the Thousand Islands. And I’ve already made my feelings clear about imported kalamata olives.

This recipe for Greek chicken pretty much includes them all, as well as fresh lemons and Greek oregano, which continues to grow robustly in my herb garden. This is also a great meal for late Spring, early Summer because it’s light and super easy and fast to throw together.

I served this chicken over some homemade tomato pasta, which I made with my new pasta maker. I just used the standard pasta dough recipe (cup of flour, 1 egg, dash of salt) and added about a tablespoon of tomato paste to it. It turned out terrific.

Greek Chicken

1 Chicken, cut up into eight peices

3 TBS Extra virgin olive oil

2 Garlic cloves, crushed

2 TBS Fresh Greek Oregano, chopped fine

1/2 cup Black Olives, sliced

1 tsp Lemon zest

Juice of 1 Lemon

Sea Salt

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

1/2 cup Fresh Imported Feta Cheese

1. Drizzle olive oil onto bottom of baking dish. Add garlic, oregano, lemon zest and olives and use a spatula (or just your hands if no one is looking) to spread it all around. Place the chicken peices skin side down onto the mixture, then turn them over. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top of the chicken the season with salt and pepper. At this point you can either let it marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours, or put it right into the oven.

2. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake chicken uncovered for about 50 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with Feta and return to oven for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest a few minutes before serving.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go watch that movie again!

Greek Turkey Burgers with Smashed Potatoes

At the end of the street where I grew up, there’s a Greek Orthodox church. Every Father’s Day weekend, they host a big carnival with rides, games and, best of all, lots and lots of Greek food.

Ever since attending that carnival as a young boy, Greek food has been one of my favorite cuisines. Anytime my wife asks where I would like to go out to dinner, I always suggest Greektown in Chicago first.

Greek food just makes me feel at home, and I’m not even Greek. I love lamb, for one thing. My wife, Sandi, will not eat lamb so the only time I get to have it is in Greektown.

But I also love saganaki, the flaming cheese where the waiter shouts, “Opah!”

And stuffed grape leaves. And baby octopus salad. I love those inexpensive semi-sweet chilled Roditys and Retsina wines. What about the baklava, with the the nuts and honey wrapped in Phyllo dough? OMG good! I even love the bouzouki music they play.

Great, now I totally have to go to Greektown.

Greek Turkey Burgers on Whole Wheat Buns

Greek Turkey Burgers on Whole Wheat Buns

Anyway, although I love Greek cooking, I very rarely get to cook Greek. So when I came across this recipe for Greek Turkey Burgers, I knew I had to give it a try.

I’m glad I did because the results were excellent. They have huge flavors and are much more juicy than regular turkey burgers. That’s because ground turkey usually is about 99% protein and only 1% fat, compared to ground beef which averages 75/25 or 80/20 protein-to-fat ratio. So while turkey burgers may have a lower fat content, you pay for it in the mouthfeel.

Unless you add more fat! In this case, feta cheese, the white, crumbly cheese most often seen on Greek salads.

Smashed Potatoes

Smashed Potatoes

I paired it with a smashed potatoes recipe I found on the2Beths blog, who raved about it after seeing it on the Pioneer Woman’s blog. She calls them Crash Hot Potatoes, although I don’t really understand why. But since she just got her own TV show on the Food Network, I knew they had to be fantastic. They were.

So here are the recipes. I hope your enjoy them. Opah!

Greek Turkey Burgers

1 lb ground turkey

1 TBS dry oregano

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 TBS onion powder

1 TBS granulated garlic

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

1. Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix well using a wooden spoon or, better yet, your hands. Form into three or four hockey puck sized patties. I usually throw them on a sheet pan and put them in the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm them up and make them easier to work with come grill time. These can be made hours or even a day before you are ready to serve.

2. Turn your grill as high as it will go, getting it really hot. Meanwhile, use pan spray to oil both sides of the burgers and season with S&P. Use a rag to put a little oil on the grill itself (okay, I use the pan spray, even though you totally shouldn’t), then place your burgers on the hottest part of the grill to mark both sides of your burgers, about a minute per side. Then turn the grill to its lowest temperature setting, move the burgers away from the direct heat, such as to an upper shelf, close the lid and let them finish for about 15-20 minutes.

Extra credit: Just before service, toast the buns on the grill. Serve with shredded red leaf lettuce, red onion slices and sliced tomato.

Smashed Potatoes

6 red potatoes

3 TBS EVOO

Sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste

1 sprig fresh rosemary, removed from stalk and chopped fine

2 TBS grated parmesan

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from water and drain.

2. Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray and place potatoes on sheet pan, with plenty of room in between. Using a potato masher, gently crush the potato until it slightly mashes, then rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Drizzle or brush the tops of the potatoes with the EVOO, season with S&P and sprinkle on the rosemary. Cook in 425F oven for about 20 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle with the parmesan, and return to oven for about 10 more minutes. Yum.

Good job, Pioneer Woman. And good luck witht the show! I’ll be watching.