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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuscan Chicken

I used to be hesitant to tell people I grew up in Eastern Kentucky because the problems in that impoverished part of the country sometimes overshadow the good memories. For instance, I had the wonderful advantage of farm fresh foods every day and a family that knew how to cook. There isn’t a single bad cook in the whole family, which could be why we are large in more ways than one.

Since moving to the “big city” of Lexington, I have lost some of my access to cucumbers and tomatoes fresh from the vine. Corn trucked in to the farmers market doesn’t compare to that picked right before dinner. Just thinking about home and the wonderful food I grew up with can make my mouth water.
I have learned to live without a garden or a neighbor who can stock my freezer with a side of beef. However, I cannot make it without fresh herbs. Pots of rosemary, basil, thyme, chives, and oregano grace my patio. Maybe a tomato plant or two, and a bell pepper snuck into the ground at the edge of the patio. You can take the girl out of the country…

I’m not the only member of my big Irish-American family to move away. School, marriage, and work has taken us out of the hills and introduced some exotic new recipes into those family gatherings. My older sister is married to a Cajun, and her cuisine has taken on some spice. My little sister lives here in Lexington now, about ten minutes away. She still loves her country cooking and can be counted on for outstanding pork chops and homemade buttermilk biscuits.

I married a half-Greek and over seventeen years together my cooking has taken on a few decidedly Mediterranean flavors. I may never be able to match my mother-in-law’s skill with moussaka but I would match my domades against those in any Greek restaurant. In one of my favorite Mediterranean additions to our menu only the olives are Greek. An often requested pot-luck dish in our house is my Tuscan Chicken. That’s the recipe I decided to share with you today.

Tuscan Chicken

2 ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2-3 pounds bone-in chicken

Reserve ½ tablespoon of olive oil to coat the roasting pan.
Combine the remaining oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, lemon juice, white wine, salt and pepper in large zipper bag. Zip and shake well to mix the marinade. Add chicken, zip and shake the bag until the chicken is well coated.

Place in the refrigerator for 1-8 hours (one hour is fine, but I have always believed that more is better).

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Coat the roasting pan with olive oil. Place the chicken on the prepared pan and pour the marinade over it. Sprinkle the olives over the top. Bake until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the center of the thickest part of registers 175 degrees, about 40 minutes.
Gwen Mayo

When she isn't cooking, Gwen Mayo spends her free time writing historical mysteries. Her first novel, Circle of Dishonor, is set in 1879 Lexington, Kentucky during the city's 100th birthday party. Circle of Dishonor has former Pinkerton agent, Nessa Donnelly, racing to save her friend Belle Brezing from the gallows and confronting one of the most notorious secret societies of the era. Research included testing out several recipes from the 1800s. Her friends consider this the best part of knowing an author, since they are called upon to sample the dishes.

Posted by Judy Alter at 6:31 PM


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  1. I'm printing this for Gwen's mother-in-law now. Yum! Mountaineer Father of Gwen's Spouse

  2. Not very anonymous there Dad, but thanks for stopping by. I am sure the two of you will enjoy this. Deanna left the following message for me on my page when she read it:

    "Thanks Sis, You know you can come over anytime. I always can throw down something for dinner. I just didn't get a call about dinner when you made the Tuscan Chicken. You know it is almost your dinner time and I could eat that for my breakfast!!! LOL!!!"