GREEK LEMON CHICKEN
Last summer, at a Greek-American festival in Louisville (of all places) I picked up a handful of recipe cards. Tucked them away, forgot them for a while, and last night rediscovered them and was inspired to blend their simple procedures with recollections of dining out in Greek-American Astoria, our old neighborhood in NYC. The results definitely passed muster, or so says my wife:
Wash and dry a 3-4 pound hen, tuck its wings behind its shoulders (no trussing necessary), rub it with a little olive oil, sprinkle it all over with oregano, salt and pepper, and place it breast-down in a deep roasting pan. Pour the juice of two lemons over it. Throw in two or three smashed garlic cloves (one in the cavity, two in the bottom of the pan). Add 2 cups simmering chicken broth. Cover the roaster and put it in a 400F oven to bake for a total of 90 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the bird over, breast up, sprinkle on a little more oregano, salt and pepper, put the cover back on, and continue roasting. After 30 more minutes, remove the cover so the top of the bird will brown and the liquids will reduce a little during the last half-hour of cooking. We couldn't decide whether the rather light-colored and tangy-citric chicken would stand up to a red wine, so compromised with a tasty dry Provence rosé. (Darn! No retsina in the house ... )
GREEK ROAST POTATOESPeel baking potatoes and cut them lengthwise into quarters. Rub with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast in a shallow baking pan for 30 minutes. When they're starting to brown, drop them into the liquid surrounding the chicken (above) for the last 15 minutes of cooking.
GREEK "GREEN" SALADCut enough romaine for two into strips and place in a salad bowl that's been rubbed thoroughly with raw garlic. Peel half of a good-size cucumber, cut it into dice, and mix them with the romaine. Slice enough sweet white onion paper-thin to make about 1/4 cup, and add it to the salad. (You literally can't get it too thin -- work with a very sharp knife to get it in slices so thin you can see through them.) Add salt and pepper to taste, and dress with a 2-to-1 blend of good dark olive oil and red-wine (or good balsamic) vinegar. Crumble lots of feta cheese over the top.