A rich and healthy dish, you will get great responses every time you serve it! Fib if you want to, say it is baked with cheese (it is) or just call it creamy roasted chicken if the yogurt makes it sound too healthy. The important thing is that it tastes wonderful, and is easy to prepare… and it’s good for you.
Yogurt and Yoghurt
Run your spell check, they are both correct. The squabbles however run deeper into the creamy culture that is yogurt. Was the first mention Herodotus in 500BCE, or was it Pliny the Elder in about 4CE? Or…did the bible refer to yogurt with “the land of milk and honey”, since honey was commonly added to yogurt even back then to make it more enjoyable.
The real deal is yet another classic case of cuisine by mistake. That’s right, some brave person in the Neolithic period decided to eat the milk that had soured and congealed. Yum. The competition continued between early India with people intentionally fermenting milk, and Mesopotamian folks lugging milk around in pouches made from animal stomachs which has enzymes that cultured milk. Again, yum. The end result is yogurt.
Greek versus everything else
All yogurt is essentially the same to a point. Warm some milk, from just about any critter, add culture like old yogurt, let sit together until firm. Then you see a difference in process to make it ‘Greek’. Put the yogurt in a fine mesh and allow the whey (liquid) to drain out, and voila, Greek style yogurt.
What you see is a thicker creamier yogurt that also has a more intense tanginess to the flavor. This does make it more versatile for cooking as well. You can use it as a straight up substitute for sour cream, few folks will notice. Add just a titch of water and use it for milk in all kinds of recipes.
What about the goats?
Yes, early yogurts were often goat’s milk, perhaps more often sheep’s milk. We mentioned India, who kept their cows around, and did use that milk for yogurt. Not wanting to be left out, those nomadic middle easterners make yogurt out of camel’s milk. Not sure about the yum factor there.
This recipe does use Feta cheese, the likely culprit for using up all the sheep’s milk and goat’s milk. In addition, Feta has salt added to the curds, as much as 3%. That is not enough for the Greek folks though.
After the dry salt aging, the cheese is left to hang around for a couple months in a brine of 7% salinity. Often bricks are shipped in the brine as a preservative.
This recipe uses much of the spectrum of flavors that we associate with Greek gastronomy. Garlic of course, duh. Fresh dill is actually a mild flavor when compared to our usual association with dilled pickles. It is very common to see it matched with yogurt, most notable the ubiquitous tzatziki sauce.
Fresh mint has a deep association with middle eastern and Thai cuisine. Not especially sweet, it offers a different mild tanginess and pungency. Parmesan may be an outlier, but hey its parm, always brings something to the table.
Tips and tricks for Greek Yogurt Chicken
If the chicken breasts are particularly large, you can divide them. Lay them flat on your board and carefully split lengthwise with your knife parallel to the board.
Minced (ßlink to article) means finely chopped, and is applied top both your garlic and onion for this recipe. If you buy pre-minced garlic, use a full tablespoon.
You can tear the mint leaves or coarsely chop them, either is fine. Chop immediately prior to adding so that the pieces do not get brown and limp. Which happens pretty quickly. Dill is slightly sturdier, but is best when chopped right before adding.
Greek Chicken Baked in Yogurt Recipe
- 4-6 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Large onion, minced
- 16 Oz. Greek-style yogurt
- 2 Large eggs, beaten
- 2 Tablespoons All-purpose flour
- 2 Ounces crumbled feta cheese
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill plus some for garnish
- 3 sprigs of mint, leaves removed and torn, save some for garnish
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Season chicken with salt and freshly ground pepper
- Add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat
- Brown chicken on both sides, do not fully cook
- Remove chicken and set aside
- Sautee onions in the pan for about 5 minutes until golden
- Remove from heat and set aside
- In a bowl, mix yogurt, eggs, flour, feta, dill, mint and garlic
- Put onion and chicken on the bottom of a lightly oiled ovenproof dish
- Spread yogurt mixture evenly on top
- Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese
- Bake for 45 minutes, the yogurt will turn golden and custardy
- Remove from the oven and let stand for about 5 minutes
- Serve garnished with extra chopped dill and mint