In Homewood, Alabama, if you say you’re going out for “Greek‑and-three,” folks will assume you’re headed to Johnny’s Restaurant (see “When Greek and Southern Food Link Up”) for lunch. There, on the menu behind the counter, you’ll see Greek baked chicken, a superflavorful dish of tender and juicy marinated and roasted chicken with tons of herbs and lemon. It comes with three sides, hence “Greek-and-three.” Once I’d tried it for myself, I knew I wanted to create my own version of this simple yet complex-tasting dish.
Back in the test kitchen, the first order of business was determining which herbs to use in the marinade. After experimenting with fresh herbs, dried herbs, and even dried herb blends such as Italian seasoning and herbes de Provence, I found the best balance with fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, and dried oregano, which packs a more pungent punch than fresh. Rather than finely mince the fresh herbs, I opted to simply chop them; I found that with slightly larger pieces, the bursts of flavor were more pronounced and exciting.
Usually, when adding lemon zest to a recipe like this one, we suggest using a rasp-style grater to grate the zest, but I found that using a vegetable peeler to remove six strips of peel from a lemon and then coarsely chopping the strips gave me pockets of assertive lemon flavor reminiscent of those I’d found in the chicken at Johnny’s. It’s a more rustic technique for a more rustic profile, and it works beautifully. Some ground coriander and pepper (both red and black) rounded things out. The coriander, with its citrusy notes, helped enhance the lemon and add some complexity to the mix. Salt and olive oil brought it all together.
I cut thin, ½-inch-deep slits in each piece of chicken to maximize its exposure (below left) to this marinade and then tossed the chicken with the mixture (below right), making sure the marinade got into the slits, before sticking it in the refrigerator.
Once it had marinated for a couple of hours, the chicken was ready for cooking. I nestled the pieces into an ovensafe skillet, poured the excess marinade over the top, and slid the pan into the oven (below left). I chose a 12-inch skillet because I wanted to keep the chicken pieces relatively tightly packed to minimize evaporation of the marinade and the flavorful chicken juices; I was counting on that liquid to transform into a deeply flavorful pan sauce.
But even after roasting the pieces at a relatively high 425 degrees until they were cooked through (about 35 minutes), I wasn’t happy with the browning (or, rather, the lack thereof). I tried a few tricks—changing the position of the oven rack and tinkering with the temperature and time—before deciding to hit the chicken with heat from the broiler for a couple of minutes at the end of cooking to give it a lovely brown color.
I served the pieces with the pan sauce spooned over the top—a supersimple yet superflavorful supper of Greek Chicken (below right).
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