Romeo’s Greek-Italian Chicken & Red Potatoes Dinner

by Sharon Cornet


Background and Description:

This unbelievably delicious recipe was taught to me in the 1980’s by a man who was half Greek and half Italian.  His name is pronounced “roh-MAY-oh,” not like the story Romeo and Juliet.  He has since died, but his memory and his family’s delicious recipe lives on.

Romeo’s grandmother, who lived in either Greece or Italy (I can’t remember which), kept olive oil in a large clay pot in the cellar, which was not like what we see on store shelves, but was thick, cloudy, green in color, and rich in flavor.  Therefore the closest we can come to making this recipe to its authentic origins is to use only extra-virgin olive oil. 

The meal, in its entirety, includes skinless chicken breast cooked in olive oil, lemon juice and white wine sauce (roux).  Served on the side includes salad, buttered crusty bread, and everyone’s favorite olive oil/lemon juice red potatoes.  Serves 6.  Note: Recipe can be cut in half for fewer people.

Ingredients:

4-5 lbs of small red potatoes

11-13 large lemons

6 large skinless chicken breasts

1 bottle dry, white wine (you will need 1-3 cups worth, depending on taste)

1 large bag of salad greens (or chopped lettuce and spinach)

of 1 pkg. of feta cheese

bottle of greek olives

1-2 roma tomatoes, chopped or sliced (or can use cherry tomatoes)

cup sliced red onion

Plenty of olive oil

Splash of apple cider vinegar

1 loaf French bread (or similar)

Butter or margarine

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Cut red potatoes into bite-sized pieces/wedges (approx. 1”x1”) and put in single layer in one or two 13x9 pans or cookie sheets.  Do not overcrowd the potatoes.

Cut all lemons in half, save out 6 halves for chicken.  Divide remaining lemons into two equal portions, use half and squeeze onto potatoes evenly.  Drizzle olive oil liberally over potatoes, salt and pepper to taste, stir well with spatula so all pieces are coated well. 

Bake potatoes in oven at 400 degrees F. for 45-60 minutes, but be sure to add the other half of the lemons, and re-drizzle with olive oil (if needed) half-way through the baking process.  Tips of potatoes should be nice and brown when done.

While potatoes are baking, take a large skillet and turn heat to med-high and add small amount of olive oil (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan).  Place half of the chicken breasts in the pan and cook fast, but not thoroughly (it is done in two stages).   Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.   Fry until golden brown on one side, turn over, and repeat on other side, then immediately squeeze lemons over chicken.  Be careful as oil will tend to splatter and spit.  When chicken is brown on both sides, pull out and set aside, then fry remaining chicken the same way and set aside.

There should be a bit of oil, and a nice browned area stuck to the bottom of the pan from when the chicken was cooked.  Keep heat on.  Immediately pour a cup or so of wine into the hot frying pan, taking care to stir it.   Let it bubble to help lift up the brown pieces so they can melt into the wine.  This is what makes the broth-like, caramel-colored “roux” (pronounced roo), which tastes so good.  Add remaining wine, return all chicken to pan, cover with tight-fitting lid, turn heat down to simmer, and let cook for another 5-10 minutes, turning chicken once.

In the meantime, place salad greens in large bowl.  Add onion, cut tomato, and olives.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.  Stir.  Add crumbled feta cheese on top.  Salad is ready.

Cut bread into long halves, spread on butter/margarine, and bake 5 minutes (till crispy) just before potatoes are done.   If chicken gets done before bread or salad or potatoes, just turn heat off and let it sit, covered, until time to eat.  Cut crispy bread into palm-sized pieces and immediately serve with meal.

Place all food items on plates, and spoon the roux over the chicken to serve.  Delicioso!

Notes and Tips:

Generally it is easiest to figure the lemons-to-potatoes ratio by using 1 lg. lemon (or 2 small, or 1 med.) per 1 lb of potatoes.  1 small or of a large lemon should be used per serving of chicken.  Roll the lemons back and forth on the counter with your palm prior to cutting them in halves – it releases the juices and they are easier to squeeze.  Don’t worry about seeds that fall into the food as they will cook and are edible (they are not so great in the wine sauce though).  If you can only find the larger red potatoes then cut them into smaller wedge-shaped bites.  The high sides on 13x9 pans make it easier to turn the potatoes; they sometimes fall over the sides (or the oil/lemon juice can spill over) when using cookie sheets.  The most popular potatoes are cooked at 450 degrees F. until they are very brown, and almost or slightly burnt (we prefer them quite burnt), but it depends on personal preference.  Smaller chicken breasts are thinner and have more surface area per pound than larger ones, so the flavor of the wine sauce compliments it more.  Ironically, Romeo always said that the cheapest generic white wine usually tastes the best for the sauce, so don’t overspend on the wine (unless you plan to drink some of it separately).  Heavy frying pans, such as a cast iron skillet or heavy stainless steel works best when making the chicken and roux.  The bread (and the potatoes) is especially good dipped in the sauce/roux on your plate!  If another vegetable is desired to accompany the meal, I recommend lightly steamed asparagus or fresh cooked green beans.

 

www.sunstar-solutions.com