Can I just say I think it’s the best thing ever that I live close enough to my brother that, on a random Monday night before he leaves for a business trip, I can head over to his apartment after work and he can grab some groceries and we can cook together and then eat on his vintage chairs while we watch the latest episode of Friday Night Lights that he saved on his Direct TV for me?
I mean, really, beyond the unusual privilege of being so geographically close to all my family that I can see them—any one of them—any time I want to, how awesome is it that when I text my brother and say, How ’bout I come over tonight?, he responds by saying he’ll buy chicken. That, even more than his ability to laugh at the right part of stories, calm me down in near-death situations like that crazy car accident on the way to Nashville or willingly let me photograph him while he works in the kitchen, shows how well he gets me and, that we’re family.
The chicken we made last Monday is nothing fancy. It’s the kind of thing you can assemble while you’re talking and munching on leftovers, marinating the meat for 20 minutes and cooking it on the stove. But it’s also the kind of thing that you could marinate overnight and cook the next day.
Besides whatever container you put the marinade in, you’ll need just one large stove-top pan, in which all the chicken can be heated and cooked, in batches if necessary, until it’s steaming, browned and filling your kitchen with the heady scents of garlic and oregano.
The basic key is waiting: letting the chicken sit in there and cook while you go do something else—make a cup of tea for example—so it can absorb all the liquids.
After the chicken was finished, we used the same pan to saute pita bread right in the pan juices, giving them a great, buttery, garlic flavor.
Oh and on the side, we boiled baby potatoes, laid them on a foil-lined, oiled baking sheet, smashed them with a measuring cup and covered them with salt, pepper and thyme, roasting them at 400 degrees for around 20 minutes or so.
Every bit of this was easy enough that we could simultaneously talk about Nashville and his upcoming business trip and people we know and decisions to make, and even though we ran out of olive oil and eyeballed all the other ingredients, tripling them as we used three chicken breasts instead of one and mixing/tossing as we saw fit beyond that, the results were as good as the on-the-go souvlaki we grabbed in Athens back in college or the chicken gyros we had at that Greek place a few months back.
Below is the original recipe as written, but know this: it’s forgiving and flexible, just like good friends or, you know, the best kind of family members.
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 chicken breast, chopped into cubes
Make the marinade: Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, oregano, garlic powder, and pepper in a large resealable bag or a container that you can cover. Add chicken cubes, mix well, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator 3 hours or overnight (or, you know, 20 minutes).
Pour the chicken and marinade into a frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Serve with whole wheat pitas and tzatziki or whatever you want.