Wild Oregano: Mediterranean Chicken

(Kotopoulo me Rigani)

| April/May 2008

Makes 6 servings
With Dioscorides in mind, I found this recipe, which relies on the combination of onions and oregano for its character. The dish still is made in Crete’s country villages and taverns, but I would not be surprised if some ancient cookbook unearthed on the island would include this recipe as the first entry under "poultry."

Slow "dry" baking in an earthenware pot produces a luscious dish that looks and tastes as though it has been lightly grilled. A German Römertopf baker is ideal for this, but any earthenware casserole dish will do. Two rabbits could be substituted for the chicken. 

  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 large roasting chicken (about 4 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons dried oregano OR ½ cup fresh oregano leaves
  • Coarsely ground black pepper 
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut onions in half lengthwise then slice them paper-thin. Scatter half the onions on the bottom of an earthenware baking dish. Carve chicken into 12 pieces and put them in a deep bowl.
  2. Combine salt, oregano and pepper and rub meat with the mix, coating each piece evenly. Put chicken in baking dish and cover with remaining onions. Cover dish with a tight-fitting lid and bake 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  3. To brown meat, remove lid about 15 minutes before end of cooking time. Serve immediately.

William Woys Weaver is a food historian, cookbook author and contributing editor for Mother Earth News and Gourmet magazines. He gardens, cooks and writes from his home in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Click here for the original article,  Wild Oregano: The Mediterranean Spice.  

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