Our church holds a Greek “food festival” at the end of summer each year. It has grown in epic proportions over the past few years, but during its smaller days our community would wrap up all the festivities (and work) with a relaxing luncheon on Sunday after church.
The menu was always the same, and no one was complaining. It was a version of this chicken dish, made with chunks of garlic, pepperoncini, lemon juice, and lots (and lots) of butter. The juices from the roast chicken were then spooned over buttered pasta and topped with a sprinkling of mizithra cheese. Pure heaven.
I finally wrangled the recipe from the woman at church that created it. She called it “Athenian Chicken”, though it’s not really any kind of an official name. I call it delicious, and so will you.
I have tweaked the original recipe, adding new ingredients and taking out others (like the mushrooms). The Old Man tells me how much he loves me when he sees the pepperoncini jar and chicken on the counter. The boys all suddenly become so much more affectionate, too. I guess they like it.
Roast Chicken with Greek Pepperoncini (or Athenian Chicken) Recipe
- 3-5 lbs. chicken, bone-in, skin on, whole or parts
- 5-6 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped (about 2-3 Tbsp.)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh or bottled
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 2 Tbsp. capers
- 1/4 cup sliced Kalamata, or other vinegar brined olives
- 1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini peppers, preferably Greek
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. + 1/4 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Greek oregano, quantities are used separately
- a “splash” of each of the liquids from the capers, pepperoncini peppers, and olives (roughly a tsp. each)
- 3 Tbsp. + 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or melted butter, quantities are used separately
- 1 large onion, sliced (about two cups)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- cooked pasta, spaghetti or orzo (a rice shaped pasta) work well
Remove chicken from refrigerator at least an hour before roasting. Cold chicken will cook more quickly on the outside compared to the inside, which will still be raw and is just not good to eat. Preheat oven to 400 F.
Put garlic, lemon juice, wine, capers, olives, peppers, mustard, 1 tsp. oregano, and liquids into a medium bowl. Stir until combined and add the 3 Tbsp. olive oil or butter and mix again. Adding the oil last prevents the oregano from getting clumped up in the oil instead of blending into the liquids.
Place chicken parts skin side down into a roasting pan just large and deep enough to hold the chicken with only small spaces left over. Pour the contents of the bowl over the chicken, evenly spreading the chunky stuff. Rub the chicken skin into the liquid to coat it and carefully flip each chicken piece over. Push any of the chunky ingredients down into the liquid to prevent them from burning in the oven.
Place sliced onion into the bowl, add the remaining oregano and oil, and the salt. Mix until combined. Pour over chicken and push the onion into the spaces. Sprinkle a little salt over the exposed chicken skin.
Roast for 45-50 minutes at 400 F, or until the juices run clear. Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a platter. Scrape all the remaining materials into a serving bowl. When serving, spoon some of the onion/juice mixture over the chicken. You can also scoop some of the onion mixture over pasta, if desired (you will desire it), and sprinkle with grated mizithra or parmesan cheese. Try not to drink the liquids** all by yourself, but if you do, I won’t tell. Don’t forget to save those chicken bones!
**Any juices leftover from this dish can be used in place of some of the water for making tasty rice or replace some of the broth used in soups for an added boost of flavor, so don’t toss it! You can store it in the freezer with other leftover juices until you’re ready to use it.