May it Please the Palate: Greek Roast Chicken, potatoes and salad

It is said that you can cut your grocery bill dramatically simply by eating before visiting the store. Unfortunately for the gastronome, such an action also tends to kill the appetite.

Similarly, browsing recipes with a full stomach can be counterproductive. This is especially true when one's dinner has been two day old pizza, that rests in the stomach like unexploded ordnance.

I have before me three of my favorite Greek recipe books, but the dishes are looking too much like the distorted image in a funhouse mirror. "Squid Pilaf," "Octopus Spaghetti Zorba," and "Marinated Lamb's Liver" just aren't doing it for me today. To the extent there is a faint hunger, buried somewhere deep within me, it is only for something basic and comforting.

One of my especially dog-eared cookbooks is by Jeff Smith, whom you may remember as the "Frugal Gourmet." Though not Greek, he helped popularize Greek tavern food and offer simple translations for the home cook. I have always liked his take on roast chicken, though he commits the cardinal sin of leaving out the garlic. I have fixed that omission but otherwise been faithful to Smith's version.

Ingredients:

One 3 lb. chicken

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

juice of 2 lemons

1 TBS oregano

salt and pepper

Directions:

(1) Marinate the chicken, inside and out, in the above mixture for up to one hour.

(2) Bake at 375°, basting periodically, until done.

Variation for a grill:

Cut in half lengthwise before marinating and cook over medium-hot coals.

Because this recipe is so ridiculously easy, I must complicate it.

Any recipe is improved with potatoes. Therefore I heartily recommend that you cut a few Idahos into 1/8ths, toss with the chicken marinade, and bake.

Now you will need a salad.

When in Greece, I was often served a simple salad called "Marouli," the Greek word for lettuce. I loved the crunchy texture and tangy dressing, and did not miss the more traditional versions with Feta, tomato and olives. Simply toss together:

Romaine and/or green leaf lettuce, shredded finely

Chopped green onions or thinly sliced white onions

Fresh chopped dill

Olive oil

Lemon juice

A dash of white wine vinegar

Generous amounts of salt and pepper

Round out this meal with some good Greek bread and perhaps a white wine from Santorini, such as the organically grown Domaine Sigalas.

There now. I do believe my appetite is returning.

Published: Thu, Sep 20, 2012

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