Once again life in my world has been busy and unfortunately one of the things that gets set aside is my blogging. So I’m finally publishing this post that I started writing last month… thanks for your patience and thanks for reading!
June is one of those months where the weather can be so unpredictable… oh wait, that’s pretty much every month in Rochester NY. But seriously, I had some bone-in chicken quarters that I wanted to barbecue and then it rained and rained and rained — so I had to change plans (because I only grill in fair weather).
While looking at the cut up chicken on my counter, it reminded me of the years that Lista’s Italian Cuisine was one of the few full service restaurants around Brockport that also did catering. My Dad did a lot of catered events when the restaurant was in business. Everything from weddings, graduations, and corporate events to small affairs in private homes. And not everything was strictly Italian food.
Dad was well known for his catering skills and was called on often to create memorable buffets filled with hors d’oeuvres, salads, antipasto trays, carved meats, and of course Lista’s famous pasta dishes. Dad’s roast turkey, ham and prime rib were outstanding… and his attention to detail when garnishing his trays was second to none.
(This photo taken in June 1975 is from one of the catered events at Lista’s.)
One story I like to tell is how Dad would take potato or macaroni salad and mound it up on a serving tray then use heavy mayonnaise to “frost” the whole thing — then using mayo mixed with food coloring, he would fill a pastry bag and pipe on decorations just like a fancy wedding cake. It was pretty impressive!
Of course not everything was that labor intensive, in the years between 1960 and 1980 there was a very common buffet served at every party house and catering restaurant around town — I referred to it as the “Rochester Buffet” and it consisted of: Roast Beef au jus (sometimes hand-carved), Herb Roasted Chicken, Baked Ziti, Roasted Tiny Potatoes (sometimes called rissole potatoes), cooked Vegetables (usually green beans amandine or California blend), Tossed Salad, Dinner Rolls… and sometimes a big bowl of Fruited Jello!
Many wedding receptions during those years had that same buffet no matter where you went. Still I fondly remember how much I loved that herb roasted chicken (with garlic, lemon and oregano) and those tiny rissole potatoes (crisp outside and creamy on the inside) my Dad would make for those catered events.
So since it was raining and I wouldn’t grill outside, and I wanted to avoid turning on the oven and heating up the house… after all it was June! Instead I transformed the ingredients I had on hand into a delicious Chicken Oregano with Potatoes one pan meal that reminded me of those favorites from my past.
Chicken Oregano with Potatoes
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40-60 minutes
3 lbs Chicken on the bone (Leg Quarters, Thighs or Whole cut-up)
1 1/2 lbs Red Potatoes (about 6 large) – roughly the same size, scrubbed
1/ 4 cup Olive Oil – divided
2 Fresh Lemons – one quartered, one sliced
8 cloves Fresh Garlic – roughly chopped
1/4 cup Fresh Oregano Leaves or 2 TBSP Dry Oregano
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
Salt and Pepper – to taste
1. Trim chicken pieces of excess fat, rinse and pat dry with paper towels. If using leg quarters, separate at joint between drumstick and thigh. If using a whole chicken cut into 8-10 pieces (i.e. 2 wings, 2 drums, 2 thighs, 2 breast pieces – halved if large). Season both sides with salt and pepper.
2. Scrub red potatoes and remove any “eyes” or blemishes with a paring knife. Cut potatoes in half. Set aside.
3. Heat a very large (12″-14″) deep-sided skillet or dutch oven over med-high heat. Add 2 TBSP olive oil, swirl to coat pan, and the chicken pieces – skin side down. Cook undisturbed for 8-10 minutes until fat starts to render and a nice brown crust begins to form. Turn over and cook undisturbed for another 8-10 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate and pour off excess fat/oil from pan.
4. In the same pan over med-high heat, add the remaining olive oil, sprinkle in the crushed red pepper flakes, and chopped garlic. Cook until garlic is fragrant – about 5 minutes. Add chicken pieces back to the pan and arrange the potatoes, cut side down, around the chicken. Add the oregano and lemon slices (reserve quartered lemon) evenly over the chicken and potatoes. Allow to cook undisturbed for 10 minutes.
5. After 10 minutes, turn the potatoes and chicken pieces and redistribute so everything rests on the bottom of pan. Squeeze the lemon wedges over the chicken and potatoes. Season with a little more salt and pepper. Allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes until potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through (165 degrees) and juices run clear.
6. Remove pan from heat and allow chicken and potatoes to rest 5 minutes. Gently lift portions of chicken and potatoes with a spatula (to preserve the brown crust) and serve with your favorite vegetable or green salad.
There you have it, my Chicken Oregano with Potatoes — a delicious meal that is simple to prepare and cook in one pan — that reminds me of my Dad’s catering days. Keeping with the “Rochester Buffet” theme, I served the chicken and potatoes with some California Blend vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots) but it goes great with any fresh or frozen vegetable or a nice green salad. If you like the bright taste of fresh lemon, go ahead and squeeze a little over the chicken and potatoes just before serving. I hope you find a chance to make this dish… maybe on the next rainy day in Rochester.
Until next time remember, “The Sauce Makes the Difference!”