Sautéed Chicken with Herbs and Green or Other Greek Olives

Serves 4

1 chicken, 1 ½ kilo (3.3lbs), cut into serving pieces

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

½ cup white wine

3 tomatos, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

1 anchovy fillet

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tsp. each of savory and marjoram

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs fresh basil

½ cup green or other Greek olives, pitted

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown in the olive oil on both sides, a process that will take about 15-20 minutes.

Add the wine. When it comes to a simmer add the tomatoes, anchovy, garlic and herbs. Let the contents of the pan simmer for approx. 10 more minutes, or until the chicken is fork tender and cooked through. Add the olives and heat through for about 5 more minutes. Serve.

Spartan Chicken

Spartan Chicken with Sweet Onion Sauce

So many dishes in Greece have a story and this one is unusual. I discovered this dish under a different name, “Albanian Chicken,” in a string of tiny villages above the ancient Greek city of Sparta. It apparently became part of the local cuisine many centuries ago, when Christianized Albanians moved en masse into Greece. It morphed into a dish called Kotopoulo (chicken) Vardouniotiko, after the name of the cluster of villages, Vardounohoria, right above Sparta. Sensitive to the linguistic limitations of most non-Greek speakers, I took the liberty and invoked my own poetic license in renaming the dish, for simplicity’s sake, Spartan Chicken.

Serves 6

1 chicken 1 ½-2 kilos (3.3.-4.4lbs), cut into serving portions


¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 ½ cup extra virgin Greek olive oil

6 large red onions, finely chopped

¼ kilo (2.2lbs) Feta cheese, crumbled

Trim the chicken and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and toss with vinegar. Let the chicken stand, covered and refrigerated, for a half hour.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pan over medium heat and add the onions. Cover the pan and cook the onions over very low heat for about 20 – 25 minutes, checking occasionally to see if they need a little water. They shouldn’t. The onions will exude a surprising amount of their own juices.

Strain and dry the chicken. Push the onions to one side of the pan and sauté the chicken lightly inside the same pan, just until it turns light golden brown. Season to taste with additional salt. Push the onions towards the pan’s sides and sauté the chicken lightly until it gains some color. Season. Spoon about half the onions over the chicken, smothering it, so to speak. Cook the chicken and onions, covered and over very low heat, for about an hour, or until the chicken is falling off the bones and the onions are so soft they are almost liquid.

Add the crumbled feta 10 minutes before removing the pan from the heat. Cover again and let the feta melt and integrate with the onion until the sauce turns thick and creamy. Serve immediately. 

Filo Pie Filled with Chicken, Raisins, and Onions

Savory chicken filo pies are a common dish on mainland Greece. This recipe comes from Thessaly.

Serves 8-10

1 chicken 1½ kilos (3.3lbs) approx.

¾ -1 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil

5 medium sized onions, finely chopped

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup golden raisins

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

500g (17.6oz) commercial filo pastry, defrosted and at room temperature

Poach the chicken in salted water for about one hour, skimming the foam off the surface of the water as it cooks. Remove the chicken, discard skin, debone, and shred or coarsely chop the meat.

Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large heavy frying pan over medium heat and sauté the onions, stirring constantly until they wilt, approx. 7 minutes. Add the meat to the pan and cook together on low heat for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Mix in the eggs, raisins, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 190°C and brush a small round dish of 35cm (13-inch) or 38cm (14.5-inch) with olive oil. You may also use a rectangular pan, 30x45cm (12×18-inches) and 5cm (2-inch) depth.

Place the filo sheets in front of you. Place 7 sheets, one at a time, on the bottom of the baking dish, brushing each with olive oil as you layer them. Layer them in such a way so that the excess filo hangs evenly over the rim of the pan. Spread the filling over the filo. Cover with the remaining 4 sheets, brushing each with olive oil.

Bring the top and bottom overhanging filo sheets together and roll inwards to form a decorative rim. Sprinkle the surface with a little water and score into serving pieces. Bake until golden brown, approx. 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly and serve.

Chicken Soup with Trahana

Chicken soup, Greek penicillin (!), is one of the most delicious winter dishes. Most people know it in its restaurant interpretation, as chicken soup avgolemono, with rice and the classic egg-lemon liaison. This old recipe, from northern Greece, calls for trahana, a delicious, sour grain product that is one of the oldest agricultural products in continuous use throughout Greece and the Balkans. The tartness of the trahana makes up for the absence of lemon in this unusual soup.

Serves 8-10

1 chicken, 1 ½-2 kilos (3.3.-4.4lbs) approx., cut into portions

10 cups water


1/3 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil

2 large onions, finely chopped

1 full tsp. sweet paprika

½ cup sour trahana

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the chicken in a large pan with water. Let it come to a boil and add the salt. Lower the heat to medium-low and boil the chicken until the meat starts falling of the bones, approx. 1-1½ hours. Skim the water while boiling and discard the foam. Remove the chicken from the stock with a slotted spoon and let cool. Remove the skin and bones and cut the meat into pieces.

Heat the oil in a medium sized pan and sauté the onions over low heat until they wilt, approx. 7-8 minutes. Add the paprika and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Add the onion mixture and chicken to the stock and stir.

Add the trahana, season and boil on low heat for 12-15 minutes. Serve.

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