Joints of Chicken Baked with Cinnamon

On an island in the Aegean, in the middle of an olive grove, my husbands prep school headmaster has built himself his life’s dream – a small, square, whitewashed tower with arched windows and pilasters round the top where, in his retirement, he goes for most of the year to paint. One summer just after we married we decided to visit him there; the bus dropped us at a café on the beach and we stumbled towards his tower with our suitcases through the stubbly grass of the olive groves. We had a happy time but, living alone, his diet seemed to consist of bread and a bumper jar of Marmite from England. So I cooked a bit and there wrote my first recipe; a simple stew which he could do for himself if he tired of the Marmite. I also learnt from a restaurant in the town how to cook chicken in the easiest and most delicious way, flavoured with stick cinnamon. They told me it was a common way to cook chicken in Greece but I have never had it like that again. Here is the way that I do it.

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Ingredients

  • 6 pieces of chicken
  • 2 cloves garlic – crushed
  • 3–4 tomatoes
  • 1 orange – sliced in rounds
  • 1 lemon – sliced in rounds
  • stick cinnamon
  • handful of black olives – stoned and halved
  • 1 glass white wine or sherry
  • olive oil
  • salt, black pepper

Method

Pre-heat the oven to Gas 5 (375°F/190°C). Smear the pieces of chicken all over with the crushed garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush each piece of chicken with olive oil and put in a wide, fairly shallow ovenproof serving dish. Put 6–10 pieces of stick cinnamon over and under the chicken. Slice up the tomatoes and arrange them with the olives around the pieces of chicken. Put a round slice of lemon and orange on each piece of chicken. Pour over the wine, cover the dish with foil and bake in the centre of the oven for an hour. This dish is very good with buttered noodles instead of potatoes.

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