Friday, September 6, 2013

Chicken with tomatoes and olives

Remember the other day I was telling you that one of my gas-rings is broken and I can’t cook anything larger than a fried egg? Well, the landlord realized that I’ve had enough misery to last me a lifetime in this kitchen and he decided to change the whole stove top making me incredibly happy.

I need to tell you something about me though. It’s a bit embarrassing but hey, who cares. Whenever I buy or get something brand spanking new, whether it’s new shoes, a new mixer or in this case, a new gas stove, I can’t use them straight away. I feel like I’m going to taint them if I use them or that I’m going to break them in an instant, and I simply want to sit and admire my new things for a little while before I finally decide to use them.

So, as we speak, my shiny new gas stove is all clean and almost untouched as I have only used it to boil water for pasta, οh, and make Greek coffee on the small gas ring. I know, I’m weird.

Ιn the meantime, while I’m admiring my new acquisition, I have been using my oven and some pretty delicious food has been enjoyed. Like this roast chicken dish with whole fresh tomatoes, black olives, thyme, oregano, garlic, lemon, olive oil; the usual suspects in Greek cooking.

Incredible flavors of succulent tender chicken, sweet tomatoes that once you cut them open a sweet aromatic puddle of heavenly juices forms on your plate and all you want to do is dunk your bread into them.

The garlic is soft and sweet with an earthy quality that matches that of the thyme and oregano. The olives are slightly briny and balance out the rest of the flavors with their mild acidity. The crispy skin of the chicken and almost charred and caramelized skin of the tomatoes offer an interesting variety of textures.

Such a great balance of flavors, a truly summery dish worthy of this time of year when tomatoes are so plump and soft. Because summer is not over yet. Thankfully!

As for my gas stove, I have the sneaking suspicion it’s going to be used properly tomorrow. I’m craving a dish that requires lots of pots and pans and it’s going to be good.

Marinated Roast Chicken with Tomatoes, Olives, Lemon and Herbs

I used Kalamata olives but any good quality black olives will do. Also, choose tomatoes that are ripe (not overripe) and plump. I used vine-ripened tomatoes (Greek: τσαμπί / Dutch: trostomaten) but I suspect any type of tomato that’s juicy yet firm will be perfect.

I usually serve this dish with lots of bread and feta cheese, sometimes with a green salad or if we’re really hungry, with a simple rice or sautéed/baked potatoes.

Yield: 2-4 main-course servings

1 chicken, about 1,200 g, cut into 6-8 pieces*
Zest of 1 lemon, grated
Juice of 1 lemon
4 garlic cloves, peeled and bruised
4 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp Greek dried oregano
4 fresh large thyme sprigs, leaves picked
Freshly ground black pepper

4 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into half or quartered if too big
15 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1 Tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

*I always cut the chicken into six pieces; legs, wings and breasts. You can also cut it into eight pieces, separating the legs into thighs and drumsticks, but I prefer not to because they remain juicier.

Special equipment: large barking tray, plastic wrap or plastic bag appropriate for storing food

In a large glass bowl, add the lemon zest and juice, the garlic, 4 Tbsp olive oil, the dried oregano, the fresh thyme leaves, a little salt and a good sprinkling of black pepper and mix with a spoon. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and coat them well with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or, alternatively, place the chicken pieces with the marinade in a plastic bag suitable for storing food and seal it. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 hours. If you choose to marinate the chicken for more than 1 hour, place it in the refrigerator. Take it out of the fridge 20 minutes before you put it in the oven, to allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 190-200 degrees Celsius / 375-390 Fahrenheit.
In another bowl, add the tomatoes, the olives, 1 Tbsp olive oil, a little salt and black pepper and toss.

Place the marinated chicken in a roasting tray large enough to fit all the pieces in one layer, drizzle the marinade on top and add the tomatoes and olives between the chicken pieces.

Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and roast the chicken for about 50 minutes, until it takes on a golden brown color and the skin becomes crispy and caramelized, and the tomatoes have softened and have produced plenty of juices. Also, if you insert a knife or skewer on the thickest part of the chicken pieces, the juices should run clear and not be reddish in color. Don't cook for longer because the chicken will dry out and become tough.

Serve in dishes along with the delicious juices from the pan. They are perfect for dunking your bread in.


  1. Oh my goodness Magda, it's dangerous to read your food descriptions past midnight with an empty fridge! This dish reminds me so much of what my flatmate used to cook on cold nights and it warmed up the whole kitchen. I miss that! I think true Greek flavours will always conjure up such good memories for me, even though it's a relatively new influence in my life.

  2. This dish reminds me of my grandma, really. I believe that grandma's from the mediterranean area all look alike and cook pretty much the same things :)

    I'm glad u're saying summmer is not over yet. Here in Porto, summer is still full of energy, nice and warm and you can only realize it is september cos the days are a lot shorter. But what's going on with most of the blogs, already saying goodbye to summer? I'm an autumm person, but we still have a bit of time before changing the season, lets honour it properly: with roast chicken and tomatoes :)

  3. Irina — you should make it if you miss these flavors!

    Ondina Maria — Portugal isn't a Mediterranean country but I guess it has many similarities.
    Yes, we still have time for autumn and winter. I don't understand why people insist that it's over. :)

  4. This is how I like for my chicken dishes to look...juicy and crispy at the same time. Love the tomatoes & olives. Perfect recipe for a late summer evening.

  5. Magda - this is one place where we differ (maybe one of VERY few) - if I had a new stove it would be a mess within minutes. Really. But I see where you are coming from. ... So, I went to the market this morning and got everything I didn't already have to make this for our dinner tonight. I can't wait. I can taste the flavors already! xo, David

    1. Tia dish was absolutely amazing! We had to stop ourselves from eating the whole thing in one sitting. Thank you so this! xo, David

  6. I do the same thing with new belongings--especially expensive ones. It always takes a good while to actually start using them on anything like a regular basis. Being aware of that is definitely a great way to keep from buying unnecessary things, though! Anyway, that chicken looks so good--juicy and intensely flavored with the olives. Hooray!

  7. Teresa — thanks. That juiciness and crispiness is the best part!

    David — I'm thrilled you liked it! Thanks for trying it! xo

    Eileen — haha I'm glad I'm not the only one.

  8. You are just like my husband, he does exactly the same thing. Sometimes he'll store something for months before wearing it for example. I am also sure he would love this chicken (as would I).

  9. so glad that your landlord did the right thing---soon you'll break in that beautiful new stovetop. in the meantime, that oven-crisp and juicy chicken with summer tomatoes has me salivating.

  10. I too save things when they are new, admiring them in their sparkly shiny unused state. I cook chicken like this too, yours looks extremely delicious and as ever beautiful photographs.

  11. It's amazing how food can be so similar even though two countries are miles and miles apart. My hubby who's from Liguria would absolutely love this recipe (since it has all of his favorite ingredients) though I'm sure he would substitute in taggiasche olives (ever tied to his native land)

  12. Xerete:-) Magda! How nice to find your blog, I really like it! We are Greek-Norwegians now living in India - making greek food on unreliable gas kitchencheck out my blog too if you like:-) Have a wonderful day:-)

  13. I love those flavours. I cook a similar dish regularly and it's delicious. Love your pictures!

  14. This recipe has been calling my name since you posted it and I finally made it. Wonderful! The chicken is so tender and juicy and as you said, the juice needs to be soaked up on crusty bread.


  15. This was fantastic! I added large cubed potatoes and sweet potatoes to the pan and sprinkled roughly chopped flat leaf parsley and feta over top once done. Wiping the pan clean with bread was one of the best parts of the meal ;) Thanks for your blog, accurate instruction and all of the recipes you share.