Like the idea of a Greek barbecue and looking for a simple Greek chicken breast recipe? Authentic Greek lemon chicken is full of the great flavors of Greece and only 15 minutes total preparation and cooking time. And, all made with everyday ingredients.
The key to this dish is its simple flavoring. Like the idea of a Greek barbecue and looking for a simple Greek chicken breast recipe? Authentic Greek lemon chicken is full of the great flavors of Greece and only 15 minutes total preparation and cooking time. And, all made with everyday ingredients. We delve into what is surely one of the world’s most popular and heavily used Greek spices and how you can use it.
One of the things you just have to love about Greek people, is the emphasis on social contact with family and friends. Not just once a month but all of the time! When visiting Greece and the Greek Islands, you can’t help but notice this when visiting a restaurant. You are sure to see big groups of the locals clearly enjoying the company of one another. Friends and family, a few wines, some Greek appetizers and share plates, an outdoor setting under the trees in the glorious Greek climate and you have a perfect recipe for a lively and fun Greek get-together.
The emphasis on conversation and get-togethers means the Greek cuisine is full of simple, healthy recipes made from a small number of key ingredients. No time-wasting here on complex dishes requiring too much time in the kitchen. That would mean less time for conversation.
And, nowhere is this more evident than in Crete. Crete is reputed to be the home of the Mediterranean diet. Here, there is a solid reliance on some key ingredients, including the ubiquitous herbs you can see just growing in the wild as you drive around the largest of the Greek Islands.
Greek style chicken might play second fiddle to other meats in Greece, such as lamb and beef, but nothing is simpler to cook than Greek barbecue. And the traditional Greek herbs and flavoring ingredients go perfectly together in our authentic Greek lemon chicken recipe. But, before we move onto our Greek style chicken recipe, let’s touch on the importance of herbs in Greek cuisine.
Herbs Just Grow Wild in Crete
On our first full day in Crete we enjoyed a fabulous drive exploring the beaches between Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos. It was a superb day driving through the olive groves and vineyards, the glorious beaches and what was that we just passed?
Yes, there just growing wild on the roadside was healthy looking oregano! We gleefully picked some oregano for our grilled lemon chicken recipe we were cooking in our self-contained accommodation in Archanes. But, it’s not just oregano you will see growing wild in Crete.
Common Cretan Herbs
Also growing wild in Crete are sage, parsley, fennel, marjoram, basil, thyme and dill. And, like oregano, they feature prominently in Cretan cuisine. And why not? Each of these herbs can give a different flavor profile to the meats and vegetables you cook with, so it’s a great way to get some variety in your diet without too much effort. And, of course, any herb is good for you, so eating a range of fresh herbs is a surefire way of helping your general, overall health.
Using fresh herbs also reduces your reliance on canned and/or processed foods. Which is surely is a good thing!
Cretan Herbs Naturally Flavor other Foods
Crete has somewhat of a harsh climate. Although food grows well there, it can be very warm and dry. In these conditions, herbs like thyme and oregano thrive. You can actually smell the wild oregano and thyme growing in Crete when you stop nearby! And some creatures take full advantage of that when they are foraging for their food.
I’m talking about bees! The fragrant, fresh smells of thyme and oregano attract the bees. It’s one of the reasons why honey from Crete is so highly sought after. It’s full of glorious taste and incredibly good for you. You can read more about the common foods of Crete here.
The other creatures to take advantage of the wild herbs are the goats and lamb. No green pastures here, they roam, free range, eating all the naturally organic foods they can forage on. And again, wild herbs such as thyme and oregano feature prominently in their diet. That all means extra flavor in the meat. As our chef friend mentioned to us the lamb is so tasty here because they eat the rocks, which are full of natural minerals! I think he was only half joking.
Focus on Oregano
There is little doubt oregano is one of the world’s most popular herbs. It is also one of the easiest and hardiest herbs to grow, as it can tolerate harsh and dry climates. In warmer climates it is perennial. It is very closely related to marjoram.
The Source and Popularity of Oregano
There isn’t a single source of oregano as there are multiple varieties of this herb. The major sources are:
- Turkey, more bitter and pungent,
- Greece, more savory and earthy,
- Italy, quite mild and
- Mexico, often used in chili blends.
Although oregano was heavily used in Mediterranean cuisines going back centuries, it actually owes its popularity now to returning American G.I.’s after World War II. And the reason? Oregano was not heavily used in the US but the returning G.I’s did experience eating pizza. And so, the pizza phenomenon hit the US and then oregano became very popular in finding the perfect pizza sauce recipe. The pizza phenomenon became a world-wide phenomenon, and the rest, they say, is history.
Suddenly everyone knew about oregano. Of course, the use of oregano goes well beyond pizza these days and is a key ingredient in our lemon oregano chicken recipe, as well as a host of other Mediterranean cuisines.
The Health Benefits of Oregano
The health benefits of oregano are well documented. Many old and ancient cultures used oregano for centuries. And today, the alternative medicine industry is a big user of oregano. And why not, just look at the list of benefits of oregano.
Consuming oregano can boost your immune system, aids in anti-bacterial activity, aids your digestion, can improve your heart health, detoxify the body (by aiding liver function), improve bone health and increase energy levels. You can read more about the health benefits of oregano here.
Recipes Featuring Oregano
If you have fresh oregano, you might try some of these great tasting recipes:
Oregano is a key ingredient in chimichurri sauce, the taste of South America. It goes beautifully with roast lamb.
If you enjoy mussels, why not try these Greek mussels. Quick and easy to cook.
For an appetizer try the marinated roasted bell peppers in our meze platter. Don’t visit the deli, make these yourself.
And for dried oregano, you might want to try:
Slow cooked lamb is a simple dish to prepare and cook. A favorite from Crete.
Eating Greek food doesn’t always entail lamb and fish. Giant Greek baked beans (using butter beans) are a delicious bean casserole featuring oregano.
Salads in Crete and the Greek Islands heavily feature oregano. Try one your self with this easy Greek salad.
Would you cook pork in white or red wine? Go to the recipe for drunken pork to find out the answer. It’s one of our favorite recipes from Greece, and an easy one pot dish that really surprises.
And one further, dish using oregano is our authentic Greek lemon chicken. Read on for this simple Greek barbecue recipe.
Authentic Greek Lemon Chicken
If your looking to make some Greek style chicken, on the table in 20 minutes, look no further than our authentic Greek lemon chicken. This grilled lemon chicken dish only has a few ingredients but is bursting with happy, healthy, Greek flavors. Spice up your next grilled lemon chicken recipe by simply using oregano. Your whole family will love the mild taste.
You can either cook the grilled lemon chicken breasts inside under the broiler, or if you are looking for Greek barbecue, try it on the outdoor grill. If the weather is warm I prefer the outdoor option and in the cooler months, cook it inside.
The chicken will cook in about 10 minutes, but I do like to allow our Greek chicken breasts to rest for about 5 minutes, in a warm place, with a sheet of foil over the top. I also like to slice the grilled lemon chicken breast on the diagonal, rather than just serve it in one big piece. This makes it look appealing on the plate.
In our recipe today, I serve our authentic Greek lemon chicken with a simple salad of lettuce leaves, tomatoes and some dressing. But, if you want the full Greek oregano experience, why not serve it with a full Greek Salad or add feta cheese on top. It’s a more filling option, also.
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- Pre-heat the BBQ grill (flatplate) or broiler
- Coat the chicken fillets with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper and oregano.
- Grill the chicken for about 10 minutes, turning once about half way through. Use a knife to Test the chicken is done but not overcooked. Remove to a warm place and cover loosely with foil.
- While the chicken is cooking mix all the dressing ingredients together.
- Thickly slice the chicken fillets on the diagonal, apply about half the dressing on the chicken and the other half on your lettuce leaves and tomatoes.
You can also serve authentic Greek lemon chicken with a Greek village salad or just add feta cheese as well!