We are not quite sure where this recipe originated, but Eva's mother and grandmother used to cook this often in Lebanon and Eva loved it so much she cooked it for her family. It's definitely a family-favorite and a great version of baked chicken. What gives this dish a Lebanese twist is that it is not complete without pita bread! I absolutely love how the garlic soaks up the pita... yum!
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Rinse your chicken in a colander and let it drain, pat dry it with paper towel if it’s too wet. Salt and pepper your chicken (however much you prefer) while it's in the colander
3. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the bottom of a baking sheet and then spread your chicken pieces out on it
4. Place chicken on bottom rack of oven for 20 minutes
5. In the meantime, slice your mushrooms if you aren't using pre-packaged sliced mushrooms
6. Mince your garlic in mortar and pestle (or mince it on a cutting board or processor) with a pinch of salt and set aside in the mortar (or in a small bowl)
7. When there is a few minutes left on the oven, begin to slice your potatoes and lightly salt them (you don’t want to slice them too early or they will color, & if you have to slice them earlier put them in a bowl of cold water and drain when ready to use)
8. When your oven buzzes or when the bottom part of your chicken is cooked, flip your chicken over, add sliced potatoes and mushrooms and put it back into the oven for 20 more minutes (or when potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through)
9. When potatoes and chicken are cooked, add a half a cup of lemon juice (more or less depending on your preference) to minced garlic and stir
10. Turn your oven off, pull your baking sheet out and add garlic and lemon juice to chicken, mushrooms, and potatoes. Put your tray back into the oven for a couple of minutes while oven is off
In our Lunch With Eva: Part Two post Eva answers the latest questions that have been asked about cooking and herself! Leave us your questions in the comments and we will answer them in our next Lunch With Eva!
What’s your favorite dish to make and eat?
My favorite dish to prepare is definitely tabouli, it’s so fresh and healthy and besides chopping up parsley, it's quick to prepare. While I absolutely LOVE eating all Lebanese dishes, my favorite dish to eat would have to be Riz Bil Djaja (chicken and rice). I especially love it with lots of toasted nuts!
Which foods can be prepared and frozen to eat later?
Almost anything! Besides our salads and dips, like tabouli and hummus, most dishes freeze well. We love to freeze spinach and meat pies, and we’ve also frozen our grape leaves and kibbeh. I do typically cook enough to feed an army so I end up freezing a lot of what I cook!
If using brown rice do I need to prep it (soak it) before use?
Yes, as a rule of thumb it's a good idea to soak rice in water before using. Speaking of brown rice, I have found that some brown rices cook quicker than others, so it’s best to try different brands to figure out which one works best for you.
Is there an alternative to crisco used in some recipes?
The only alternative that I know of is butter. I usually only use crisco in my sweets, but some of the elderly Lebanese women that I’ve known have used butter instead.
Labne is like the Lebanese cream cheese! It's delicious with Lebanese olives and spread on some pita bread. I love eating it as a side in the morning with fried eggs, yum! Labne can be found premade in some grocery stores and in most International/Middle Eastern grocery stores. There is also a way to make it yourself, and we have the recipe for it here!
Preparing homemade Labne is a two-day process (or longer) and you will need some items (a towel and blanket) that you would not normally use for preparing food. Be sure to look through instructions before beginning your preparation to plan accordingly. Good luck!
1. Pour gallon of milk into a pot and bring milk to a boil on medium heat for around 25 minutes (time varies depending on stove. Be sure to watch over your milk because when it starts to boil it will rise and overflow).
2. Once the milk begins to rise, turn your stove off and move your pot to another burner to cool off and let it cool for around 30 minutes (milk must be at a temperature of 140 degrees). *The old-fashioned way of determining when your milk was cool enough was that you would be able to comfortably stick your pinky finger in it for 10 seconds
3. Pour milk into a large container that can go in the fridge (preferably glass or stainless that has a top)
4. In a measuring cup, add one cup of yogurt and 3 or 4 spoons of your warm milk to mix together, then add back into your new bowl. Stir gently.
5. Set up an area (where it can be left for a long period) with your blanket and towel. Spread out your blanket over this area and then your towel over the blanket. Then place the container on top of your layer and wrap it with your towel and then the blanket. Leave the container wrapped for 6 hours untouched.
6. After 6 hours, remove and put in fridge until next day or when you have time within 3 to 4 days to finish making your labne (right now this is just plain yogurt and is just as good as the store bought)
7. To continue to make labne: place a colander in the sink with the sack draped into it (Eva used a flour sack) and pour the quantity of labne that you want into a sack and tie the sack with a band if it doesn't already have a string tie.
8. The goal is to let yogurt drain for at least a couple of hours after. We kept it in the colander and held it over a bowl using tongs to keep it standing. This is an improvisation so feel free to do whatever you can to keep the sack draining. If you have a cabinet with a door knob directly above your sink - you can hook the sack on the knob and let it drain.
9. Empty labne into desired container to refrigerate (again preferably glass or stainless steel that has a top).
10. When serving, sprinkle salt, a dash of pepper and drizzle olive oil (if desired). You can also add some toum to it as a mezza (appetizer) at dinner to serve with pita or cut up veggies.