Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mediterranean Herb Baked Chicken

Four or five nights ago, my dear sweet mama called me to invite us over for Father's Day dinner. "Well," I told her, "Daddy is my dad, so why don't I cook and y'all can come over here?!" followed shortly by, "but Jake [my little brother] has a lacrosse tournament, and I have class, so maybe Saturday night would be a better night to celebrate; is that ok? We can just grill some burgers or something..." Mama replied that that was fine, offered to make something to share, and we worked out the details.

Of course, some time between our conversation and Saturday afternoon, I'd decided hamburgers just wasn't the thing to make for Daddy's Day... So in my little brain I conjured up the following menu:
-Baked Pita Chips with Hummus
-Mediterranean Herb Baked Chicken
-Heirloom Tomato and Pesto Tart (made with the pesto recipe I posted a while ago)
-Spinach Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

While Patrick spent the day at the rental powerwashing, I cleaned and started prepping foods. I even high-tailed it to Harris Teeter for a few last minute specialty ingredients, vino, and fresh flowers to set off the table! When Patrick got home, we bolted downtown to the Naval Base to take advantage of the sunglasses sale and a coupon so I could get a new iron, do our normal weekly grocery run at the commissary (in under 30 minutes...take that, Commissary), and still got home in plenty of time to make the final preparations! Anyway, here's the recipe for the chicken, which can be made up to 8 hours in advance (and which I took advantage of, in order to be able to accomplish so much else that day!)...

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus whole sprigs for garnish
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
3 pounds skinless chicken thighs (bone in) or chicken pieces...I used boneless/skinless chicken breasts and cut the larger ones in half
1-14 1/2 oz can chopped plum tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped green olives
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine the parsley, cilantro, garlic, cumin, turmeric, and paprika in a 9x13-inch baking dish (or bowl, as I did below, and then poured the mixture into my baking dish), stirring to blend.
Add the chicken, turning to coat, and arrange in an even, single layer.
In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes and their juices, chicken broth, olives, capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Pour the mixture around the chicken pieces, taking care not to disturb the herb coating. Cover the dish with foil and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Bake the chicken (still covered with foil) for 40 minutes, remove foil, and continue baking until the chicken juices run clear when the meat is pierced in the thickest part with a knife, about 20 minutes more.

Serve over couscous, spooning cooking juices over all and garnishing with cilantro sprigs. Sorry, but I totally forgot to take a picture of the final product, plated and ready for belly goodness....but it was pretty, colorful, and oh-so-tasty!

Serves 4.

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