Fun fact - I'm Greek (#opa). I know, I know... I don't necessarily "look" Greek - I don't have dark olive skin or dark hair like people typically "expect", but I'm a full 50% thanks to my Mom. A lot of people seem to LOVE Greek food, but I grew up a really picky eater and was never a huge fan of most of the foods made at family events or our Greek Picnic (but please pass me the Baklava, Saganaki and Loukomades, am I right?!). However, there were a few staples that have stuck with me through the years - especially since these are all gluten free and I can still enjoy them; my Moms Pilafi, Avgolemeno Soup, and my Nouna's Greek Lemon Chicken & Rice.
I whipped up a batch of the 'Greek Lemon Chicken & Rice' a while back and figured it was time to finally post the recipe - as I was extremely proud of how it turned out. Now, I'm not posting the IDENTICAL recipe - as some things need to be kept in the family - but its similar enough that you can tweak it to what you may or may not like (ex. more or less seasonings, more or less lemon... you catch my drift).
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 cup white rice (not instant)
- 1/8 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice + 1/8 cup olive oil
- Greek Seasoning of choice (Italian Seasoning could work, too)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup (additional) fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cups water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and get out an 8x11 (or 9x13) Pyrex pan
- Start squeezing all of those lemons - Get two bowls out - mix 1/8 cup lemon juice with 1/8 cup olive oil. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup lemon juice to 1 cup water; set the lemon juice/water mixture aside for later in the recipe
- Place the chicken breasts into the Pyrex pan, cover them with the lemon juice & oil mixture (1/8 cup + 1/8 cup)
- Liberally sprinkle with Greek seasonings of choice (there are a few brands that make 'Greek Seasoning' blends - then additional Oregano or Garlic, etc. - based on what taste you prefer)
- Bake the chicken in the 350 degree oven for 10 minutes
- Remove from oven, and baste the chicken with the drippings - then remove chicken from the pan
- Pour the 1/2 cup lemon juice + 1 cup water mixture into the pan to deglaze it
- Add the rice into the pan and stir to incorporate everything together
- Place the chicken bake into the baking dish - then sprinkle with some additional seasonings and oregano (as desired - i'm not a big oregano person so I only did a VERY small amount)
- Cut the butter into smaller pats and sprinkle over the chicken and rice
- Place pan back into 350 degree oven and bake for 25+ minutes - OR until all liquid is absorbed (can vary from oven to oven)
- Remove from oven and ENJOY
I was so proud with the way this recipe turned out the first time I made it - so much so that I've made it a few times since. There is just something really special about recreating a family recipe - and the fact that this is so simple to throw together, made it that much better. I even got a nice arm workout from squeezing all of those lemons (with the help of my juicer, of course). I think i'll give my Mom's Pilafi recipe a try next....