My love affair with Mediterranean-style chicken and potatoes began with the Sorrento Lemon Chicken from Gio's Chicken Amalfitano in Atlanta. This juicy baked chicken has golden, crisp skin and is served with herbed potatoes bathed in a luscious lemony broth.
I've spent the last several years baking this dish for family and friends on weeknights and for special occasions. Although the inspiration was an Italian affair, my most recent, and dare I say favorite, iteration of this dish has a distinctly Greek flair.
How to Make the Most Amazing Greek Lemon Chicken
Kotopoulo Psito Lemonata is a classic Greek dish. To prepare it, the cook rubs a whole chicken with dried herbs like oregano and marjoram, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice and then nestles it onto a bed of potatoes where it is baked until golden, tender, and juicy. The lemon is always present when roasting Greek-style chicken to brighten the dish and add a subtle punch of acid.
Here's how to get the most out of your lemons and make the best Greek-style roast chicken and potatoes.
1. Buy the best lemons you can.
Choose organic lemons for this recipe if possible. The zest is such a significant element in the oil and the seasoning rub. Make sure each lemon is thoroughly washed and dried before peeling, zesting, and juicing.
2. Quickly infuse the olive oil with the lemon.
Infusing olive oil sounds special and fancy, but it is truly simple. First, remove the yellow outer peel of the lemon with a vegetable peeler. Make sure you shave off any white pith that remains attached to the zest or else a bitter flavor will infuse the oil. Next, warm the pieces of zest in olive oil until fragrant. That's it! After a short warming, the oil will be deeply scented with the lemon oil from the peel.
Can you store the lemon oil?
The simple answer is no. Botulism is always a concern when dealing with infused oils, so prepare only as much oil as you need to cook this recipe, storing it in the fridge between steps.
3. Use chicken pieces instead of a whole chicken.
Traditional Greek recipes for chicken and potatoes call for roasting a whole bird. But for this recipe we're going with bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and thighs because they are easier to manage and quicker to cook.
Besides, bone-in, skin-on pieces feel like a hidden gem next to the more common boneless skinless cuts. Not only are they significantly less costly, but the bone and skin also protect the meat from the oven's heat and give you a broader margin of error when cooking. The bone insulates the meat, raises it off of the hot pan, and moderates the cooking process.
Chicken is always more juicy and flavorful when baked with the skin because the fat underneath bastes the meat during cooking, while the crisp skin provides a nice textural contrast.
4. Use the best potatoes for this dish: Yukon Gold.
The chicken in this recipes is pretty incredible, but good potatoes have a way of always stealing the spotlight and these are no exception. They develop a golden, herbaceous crust that surrounds a buttery, creamy interior that's full of the flavors of the lemony pan drippings.
When I began to make the dish my own, I used starchy russets just as Gio's does. I found that although it absorbed the lemony broth, the spuds fell apart too easily and could be overly dry and mealy. So after many iterations, I swapped the russets for Yukon Golds.
This is the potato you'll find in my cupboard any day of the year. It is a medium-starch potato and therefore can be used for just about everything. I love the creamy mouthfeel and buttery flavor. These potatoes hold their shape when baked, resulting in a delightful crust with an unbelievably creamy texture that soaks up all of the savory lemony broth.
How To Make Greek Chicken and Potatoes
What You Need
For the lemon-infused oil:
1 large lemon, preferably organic
1/4 cup olive oil
For the chicken:
2 large lemons, preferably organic
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (1 1/2 to 2 pounds total)
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (1 pound total)
For the potatoes:
1 to 1 1/2 pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into eighths
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the broth and toppings:
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces sheep's milk feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
Small saucepan or frying pan
Rimmed baking sheet
- Infuse the oil: Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest of the lemon in large strips. Trim any bitter white pith remaining under the strips of zest. Place the lemon peels and oil in a small saucepan or frying pan over low heat until warm (about 180°F). This is a gentle flavor infusion, so the zest should not sizzle, nor should the oil bubble. Cook until fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the zest from the oil and discard; set the oil aside.
- Season the chicken: Zest both lemons with a Microplane to yield 2 tablespoons of finely grated zest. Thinly slice 1/2 of one of the zested lemons, removing the seeds. Juice the remaining 1 1/2 zested lemons to yield 1/4 cup of juice; set aside for the lemony broth. Mix the lemon zest, garlic, salt, oregano, pepper, and marjoram together in a small bowl. Sprinkle onto the chicken and rub in. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
- Season the potatoes: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Place the potatoes, 1 tablespoon of the infused olive oil, oregano, salt, marjoram, and pepper in a medium bowl and toss to combine.
- Roast the chicken and potatoes: Coat a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of the infused oil. Scatter the potatoes cut-side down over half of the prepared baking sheet. Arrange the chicken pieces skin-side up on the other half of the baking sheet. Distribute the reserved lemon slices over and around the chicken pieces. Bake 20 minutes. Flip the potatoes, then continue roasting until the chicken registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 25 minutes more. Meanwhile, prepare the broth.
- Prepare the broth: Whisk the remaining 4 teaspoons of infused oil, reserved 1/4 cup lemon juice, chicken broth, and salt together in a small bowl.
- Broil to crisp the chicken skin: Pour the lemony broth onto the baking sheet and turn the oven to broil. Broil until the chicken skin is browned and crisp, 1 to 3 minutes.
- Serve: Serve the chicken with the potato wedges and caramelized lemon slices. Pour lemony drippings from the pan over each serving and top with the feta cheese and olives.
- Make ahead: If you rub the chicken ahead of time and refrigerate, leave the chicken skin-side up and uncovered for up to 24 hours. The skin will dry slightly, resulting in a crisper skin.
- Storage: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days. Separate the potatoes from the chicken and broth so they can be re-crisped in the oven or stovetop. Remove the bones from the chicken, slice the meat, and warm in a pan with the broth when reheating leftover chicken.