Friday, July 12, 2013

Baked Greek Chicken

Chicken dishes are a dime a dozen out there on the internets, probably because chicken nowadays is fairly mild in flavor and almost serves as a filler or vessel for flavors. If you don't agree, notice that the large majority of chicken recipes call for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I buy them, and I use them at times, but they are, to me, extremely bland and flavorless. Plus, MOST chicken breasts on the market are insanely huge - pumped up with water or hormones. No bueno. 

I actually prefer the darker meat - especially chicken thighs. Thighs are MUCH cheaper than breasts, and actually have flavor. Also, for roasting, BBQing or grilling, thighs can't be beat, since they don't dry out like chicken breasts are wont to do. Chicken thighs are almost always preferred in any kind of Creole/Cajun cooking like gumbo or jambalaya and exude lots of flavor in slow-cooked dishes as well. I usually buy family packs, stocking up when they're on sale (Winn-Dixie has frequent B1G1-free sales on thighs) - I can usually get these thighs for 1/3 - 1/2 of the price of breasts, even less if I buy skin-on, bone-in, (right now, $0.99/lb at Winn-Dixie) since I'm not paying a premium to have the butcher do all the work. 

When it comes to baked chicken, I've given up on chicken breasts. It's thighs or drumsticks for me from now on, preferable bone-in for even MORE flavor. This recipe is a definite keeper - it uses items I always seem to have on hand. Even if I *do* have to make a grocery trip, this recipe still ends up being extremely affordable and delicious! The chicken is marinated in a Greek yogurt-based sauce, flavored with garlic, oregano and lots of fresh parsley, then baked until golden brown. If you can throw a bunch of ingredients together and put chicken in a baking dish, then you can make this!

Baked Greek Chicken
adapted from Budget Bytes

2 Tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon (1-2 Tbsp)
Zest of 1 lemon
2-3 cloves garlic, grated
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 1/2 Tbsp dried)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 1/2 - 4 lbs skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

Combine the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice & zest, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in the chopped parsley. 

 Place the chicken in a large plastic bag; add the yogurt mixture. Squeeze out as much air as possible from the bag and seal. Massage the bag to ensure that all of the chicken is covered in the yogurt mixture, then chill for 30-60 minutes. 

Place the chicken in a 13x9" baking dish, discarding any excess marinade. Bake in a 375° oven for 45-60 minutes (45 for boneless, 60 for bone-in) or until the chicken is golden brown and has an internal temperature of 165°. You can also grill the chicken on a gas or charcoal grill if desired.