Grilled Greek Chicken and Mediterranean Orzo

This is an emergency request for Michelle because she’s going to cook this down in LA this afternoon.  So I’m going to post this so that she can have the list of ingredients. I’ll post pictures later to go with it. This is a delicious meal — quickly becoming one of our favorites and go-to meals to make for the week ahead.

I modified this recipe from the original Rachael Ray’s that I saw on the Foodnetwork while working out on the elliptical. I just tried to look for the recipe from her official website, but I couldn’t find it. Maybe she called it something else.

If you have someone helping to slice and dice, this should take about a half-hour to prep, and maybe another half-hour to cook the whole thing.  It’s also low-cal, but very tasty from the infusion of citrus and herbs.

Grilled Greek Chicken:

3 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks (can use thighs, or combo — your preference)
3/4 C. green olive tapenade (or a small jar from Trader Joe’s)
1/4 C. chopped fresh oregano
1/4 C. chopped fresh rosemary
1 small bulb garlic, crushed & minced
1/4 C. olive oil (or “EVOO”, as Rachael Ray calls it)
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons
salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients and marinate chicken pieces for at least 15 minutes before grilling. Depending on the size/thickness of the chicken chunks, grill about 3 to 5 minutes per side. If I remember correctly, this was supposed to be a kebob-type meal. Regardless, if you don’t have a grill, pan-fry over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked through. Save the sauce to spoon over chicken and Mediterranean Orzo (I’m completely addicted to this orzo dish).

If you have one of these grilling pans, you can do it over the stovetop…

(Orzo grows in size exponentially; keep that in mind before doubling this recipe. On the other hand, it is SO good, you might want to double it anyway.) (The “optional” were what I added to the original recipe).

Mediterranean Orzo

1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 small persian cucumbers, chopped
1/2 C. pine nuts, toasted (optional)
1 C. feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 C. shredded reggiano/parmesan (optional)
1/2 C. chopped kalamata olives
1 C. (or a very big handful) italian (flat) parsley, chopped
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 C. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
salt/pepper to taste
1 C. orzo (about 1/2 package), cooked per instructions

Prepare all ingredients while the orzo is cooking. You’ll want to mix this all together while the pasta is still warm so that the cheeses melt.

Roasted Chili-Citrus Chicken (Thighs) with Mixed Olives and Potatoes

I don’t usually follow too many recipes — mostly because I don’t want to have to remember the ingredients. But Michelle found this recipe in the October 2010 Bon Appétit, and we followed the instructions to the letter. Well, actually, I doubled the amount of citrus and doubled the amount of cilantro and parsley, and substituted sweet potatoes (yams) for the Yukon Gold.  And it was insanely good!!! So good, in fact, that I’m including it on the blog. Here is the recipe in its entirety:

Prep 40 minutes. Total 1 hour 40 minutes. 4 servings. Save some of the brine that the olives are packed in — adding a dash or two at the end of cooking is a quick and easy way to bump up flavor.

Calories 562. Fat 30g. Fiber 7g.

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch-wide wedges
8 large skinless chicken thighs with bones
2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lime juice, divided
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
1 teaspoon ground cumin1/2 teaspon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh parsley
50 olives (preferably mixed colors and sizes)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook potatoes in large saucepan of lightly salted water until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, place chicken thighs on large heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle chicken generously with salt; drizzle with 1 tablespoon lime juice and set aside. Whisk 1 tablespoon lime juice, orange juice, chili powder, both paprikas, grated orange peel, ground cumin, dried oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Rub chili mixture all over chicken. Arrange potato wedges on baking sheet, nestling around chicken. Drizzle olive oil over chicken and potatoes. Bake chicken and potatoes 20 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 425°F. Turn chicken and potato wedges; spoon juices over. Bake 10 minutes longer. Add chicken broth, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, and chopped parsley, stirring to scrape up any chili bits at bottom of baking sheet. Turn chicken over. Bake until chicken is cooked through and beginning to brown in spots, about 10 minutes longer.

Carefully transfer chicken and potatoes to platter, keeping potatoes intact. Place baking sheet over 2 stovetop burners. Boil sauce until reduced to 1 cup, about 3 minutes. Mix in olives. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper and additional lime juice, if desired. (This is when I added the juice of another whole lime). Pour sauce over chicken and potatoes; top with remaining tablespoon cilantro and serve.

BTW, I used a whole cut chicken (skinned), not just thighs. Even the breasts, which I usually hate (because it’s always dry and chewy), turned out really moist and tender and good. I would imagine the thighs would be best in a recipe like this, but if you are super conscious about white meat, this is a good recipe for it. The picture does not do it justice.

Also, because of all the juice, I would recommend serving it with couscous or rice or something to soak up all that tasty goodness. And, just so you are aware, the paprika adds quite a bit of heat. 🙂