Sunday supper was sacred in my house growing up. It inevitably involved a roast of some sort, often accompanied by potatoes, always with a salad and vegetable on the side. Our attendance at the table wasn’t considered optional; and we didn’t want it to be since the meal was always top notch.
In my own home, we’ve maintained the tradition of sitting down together on Sunday nights, but the care and quality of that meal has slipped of late. Life and soccer games and the desire to lounge with the newspaper have interfered with more thoughtful cooking. To be honest, it wasn’t something I’d realized until I thumbed through the lovely cookbook Generous Table sent to me by chef and entertaining expert Heather Christo. The fact that Heather dedicates one of the book’s 20 menus to Sunday supper, placing it on par with the cocktail parties and holiday feasts, put it in perspective for me.
Heather’s recipe for Greek Chicken with Potatoes is a delicious place to get reacquainted with Sunday supper. First off, nothing says family meal quite like a beautifully roasted bird. Plus, the tasty results bely how simple it is to prepare. You’ll be picking the lemon/oregano/olive oil-crisped potatoes right out of the roasting pan and popping bits of garlicky chicken into your mouth while nobody is looking.
You start by splitting the chicken in half right through the center. If you buy your chicken from a butcher, ask them to do this handiwork for you.
Season the chicken with loads of chopped garlic, dried oregano, and lemon. A generous amount of olive oil makes magic with the flavors and textures of this meal (confession: I use half the olive oil called for in the original recipe; feel free to experiment with the full amount, if desired).
Part of the simplicity is that it’s all done in a single pan and makes enough to feed a family of four or five. You can also double the whole business, doing it up on two sheet pans for a bigger crowd.
However, if ever, whenever you make this chicken, it will help you to remember why Sunday supper is indeed worth revisiting.
GREEK CHICKEN AND POTATOES
1 whole chicken (3 to 3 1/2 pounds)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried oregano
11 cloves garlic, minced
8 medium white potatoes, quartered
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Lay the chicken breast-side-down on a cutting board. Using a sharp chef’s knife or kitchen shears, cut the chicken in half along the back bone, staying as close to the bone as possible. Separate the two halves and lay them on the sheet pan.
Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon onto the chicken, and rub it on the front and back of the chicken halves. Pour a little less than half of the olive oil over the chicken and rub again to evenly coat the skin. Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the oregano and half the garlic over the chicken.
Put the potatoes in a large bowl. Add the remaining olive oil, remaining garlic, remaining oregano, and the juice of the second lemon. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss to coat the potatoes.
Arrange the potatoes on the sheet pan around the chicken. Drizzle any liquid remaining in the bowl on top.
Roast the chicken and potatoes until both are golden and crispy and the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Carve the chicken and arrange along with the potatoes on a serving platter. Pour any extra drippings from the pan over the chicken (be sure to scrape up all the browned bits from the pan along with the sauce — those are the very best parts). Cut the remaining lemon into wedges and arrange alongside the chicken.
Adapted with permission from Heather Christo’s cookbook Generous Table (Kyle Books, 2013)