Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Greek Meal (Chicken, Rice, Dip, Pita, Salad & Olives)

I thought I would list a few recipes for last night's meal since we were fighting over the leftovers today. My husband was thrilled to see a baked chicken coming out of the oven upon his arrival home. There's just something about seeing a baked chicken that says, "I spent HOURS preparing this meal for you". However, it is really not the truth. This meal takes a little over an hour to finish (as far as prep time goes)... but the learning curve isn't steep. Make it once and you'll be a pro the next time. The ingredients and instructions are the key. Try to follow them exactly the first time - or you may miss the beauty of the final product. I promise that this meal will impress your guests as well (even if they are Greek!).

Here's the menu, ingredients and instructions - in that order so you can shop first and cook later...

Zesty Baked Oregano Chicken
Lebanese Rice Pilaf
Pita Bread (store bought)
Greek Salad
Kalamata Olives


Chicken Ingredients:
plastic oven bag for roasting meat
small fryer chicken (or you can bake it for less time using cut pieces or breasts... but don't skimp and skip the oven bag)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic
lemon slices (optional)
diced grape tomatoes (cut in halves) - about 10 of them
chopped fresh parsley (about a handful)
honey and fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Rice Ingredients:
1.5 cups long grain or basmati rice (soak it for an hour in hot water)
(2.5 cups) quart of chicken broth or make your own using bouillon (low sodium)
1/2 cup vermicelli (1-2 inch pieces if you cut your own) * (don't leave this out!!)
1/4 cup butter (unsalted)
1.5 teaspoons salt

Hummus Ingredients:
1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans) - drain and save liquid
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons sour cream
handful of chopped fresh parsley leaves
paprika or sumac for garnish
olive oil for garnish

Greek Salad:

1/2 head of romaine lettuce (or 1 romaine heart)
1/4 of a bell pepper (julienned)
1/4 of a red/purple onion (julienned)
halved grape or plum tomatoes
1/4 cup feta (crumbled)
ground black pepper
parsley flakes (fresh or dry)
olive oil
red wine or balsamic vinegar

Pita Ingredients:
Whole wheat or white pita pocket bread
olive oil

Olive Ingredients:
Kalamata olives (if you MUST, use regular black olives)


Start with your chicken dish, start your rice dish next, your hummus next, and then finish up with your salad, bread, and olives. Here below are the easy instructions...

Chicken Instructions:
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Clean chicken and take out the guts (sorry - no easier way to describe it)
  • Cut off excess skin around cavity
  • Loosen the skin with handle of a wooden spoon so you can put some marinade against the meat
  • Mix your marinade together (rest of ingredients besides chicken, tomato & parsley) in small bowl
  • Use a meat brush to brush the outside of both sides of the chicken and in-between skin and meat
  • place chicken in an oven bag and place wrapped chicken in a pan to catch the grease
  • put 3/4 of the parsley and tomatoes into the chicken cavity with rest of marinade (allowing it to run out and pool around the bird
  • Tie off the legs (optional)
  • Bake for 20 minutes per pound of chicken or until meat thermometer reads 180 without touching bone
  • Discard stuffing veggies and eat only the ones on the outer side of the chicken
  • Place chicken in serving platter and coat with juices
  • Garnish with fresh herbs for display (optional)
  • Drizzle with a touch of honey (optional)
Rice Instructions:
  • Boil a tea-pot full of water and add bouillon, pour 2.5 cups aside for cooking later, use rest to soak rice for one hour (you can also put your chicken broth in a pot and do this, or use water alone and chicken broth while you are cooking)
  • When rice is ready, pour it into a fine strainer and empty soaking water into sink
  • Leave the rice in the strainer in the sink while you do the next step
  • Brown the vermicelli in the butter over medium-high heat for a few minutes (butter will bubble)
  • Add the rice and cook for another minute as you stir to coat the rice (don't burn the noodles)
  • Add your reserved chicken broth or water (2.5 cups) and bring to boil, stirring in your salt (use less salt if you used salted butter and broth) - then reduce heat to low
  • Simmer for 20 minutes (resist the urge to lift the lid!)
  • Fluff and serve
Hummus instructions:
  • Add ingredients to food processor and blend well
  • Add more juice from reserve of chick-pea can as needed for desired thickness
  • Taste as you go and adjust seasonings to desired result
  • Chill briefly before serving (not too hot, not too cold)
  • When serving, put a small heap on plate and hollow out the center slightly (like mashed potatoes)
  • Pour olive oil into center hole filling it half way
  • Sprinkle with paprika or sumac
  • Dip onto pita bread to eat as appetizer or during your meal
Salad Instructions:
  • Wash and tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces
  • Coat with olive oil and vinegar (to taste)
  • Chop veggies and toss with lettuce and dressing mixture
  • Pour into bowls for each person at the table
  • Sprinkle capers, spices and feta on top of each individual serving
Bread Instructions:
  • Lay bread on foil lined baking sheet
  • Use meat brush to coat each side with olive oil
  • Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10 minutes
Olive Instructions:
  • Serve in small dish along side salad or mix into salad (chilled)

Enjoy your Greek meal!

Other Quick Links:
Roasting a Chicken How-To Video
How to Bake Chicken

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