Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Greek Fire Roasted Chicken

Recipe inspirations come from the weirdest places.

I was wondering what to do with a whole chicken that I had thawing. Trevor was watching a recorded episode of Myth Busters about Archimedes "solar death ray". That in turn made me think about "Greek Fire". It was a flame thrower type weapon (as far as we can tell) that the Byzantines used in naval battles around the 9th and 10th century.

Then I thought, "Greek Fire, Roasted Chicken....yeah, that'll do!"

I didn't actually have any Greek Fire on hand so I used my Big Green Egg.

Greek Fire Roasted Chicken
Source: Nibble Me This

1 whole chicken, spatchcocked (butterflied)
8 Tbsp butter

1/4 cup Feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup oregano, chopped

3 ea large olives, pitted and finely diced

1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic pepper (sub black pepper if you don't have any).

1 ea lemon

This turns out so good thanks to the compound butter. It kind of bastes itself during the roasting.

Soften the butter and mix in the feta and about 1/2 of the oregano. Shape into a log by rolling it in parchment paper and squeezing into shape. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or long enough to be firm.

Using your fingers, separate the skin from the meat in several areas around the breasts and thighs of the chicken. Work about 1/3 of the compound butter and all of the diced olive into the pockets. Don't worry if it crumbles, mine did. You can move some of it down into the legs and hard to reach areas by "massaging" or pushing it along from above the skin.

Crumble about 1/2 of the butter mixture on top of the spatchcocked chicken and season with the salt, pepper, and remaining oregano. (This will leave some leftover compound butter. It's great to spread on bread and then toasting in the oven.)

Roast the chicken skin side up on a grill set up for indirect cooking at 350f. You'll want to use some sort of drip pan because this one will get messy as the butter starts to melt and baste the chicken with it's magic.

Setting for the BGE: Plate setter in legs up, drip pan on top, bird on the plain grid. If you want crispier skin, you could use a raised grid ("grid extender"). I was using plain lump, bottom vent open about 1-11/2". Most of the time the DMFT was closed with the daisy wheel open.

Setting for charcoal/gas grills: It's ideal to have heat sources on both sides of the chicken. For example if you have a left, middle and right burner, have the left and right ones on with the chicken over the middle (turned off) burner. If you can only have heat on one side, you'll want to rotate (not flip) the chicken every 15 minutes for even cooking.

Setting for oven: Preheat a cast iron skillet in the 350f oven for a good 10-15 minutes. After you put the butter under the skin BUT BEFORE you put it on top, place the chicken skin side down in the skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes to get a quick sear on the skin. Flip the chicken over in the skillet. Now top with the butter mixture, seasonings and herbs and roast as directed.

Roast the bird until it his 180f internal temp in the thighs and 160f internal in the breasts. This should take from 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours but go by temp. About 1 hour into the roast, sprinkle the juice of the lemon over the chicken.

Let rest for 10 minutes, carve and serve.

We served it with this spanakorizo recipe from About and My Big Fat Greek Salad (courtesy of Joi at Get Cooking's review of Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens).

Our chicken came out tender, very moist, and the crispy flavorful crust was excellent. The spanakorizo was not bad but rather forgettable. I did a few substitutions on the salad (sun dried tomato instead of anchovies for the vinaigrette, smoked olives instead of kalamata, fig vinegar instead of sherry vinegar) but it was very good too.

The compound butter rolled, chilled and ready to go.

You can see the lumps of butter under the skin now, but they'll be gone by the end.

My "Mess" en place for the salad.
It was too pretty outside to be in the kitchen making a salad. Those Applewood Smoked Olives in a Napa Valley Chardonnay from Mezzetta are EXCELLENT! It was worth the splurge, I got them from Food City for about $6.50.

The My Big Fat Greek Salad was a huge hit with Alexis and me. I love salads that make me wince here and there:) The sharpness of the feta and plives and the bite of the vinegar and red onion played well together. I forgot the little toast wedges:(

It only LOOKS like the feta and butter all melted away but the flavor stayed around.

I need a macro lens, but you can see in the shot of the sliced breast that it was perfectly juicy. You can also see the bits of olive left under the skin. Yum!

Final plated shot of the bird and spanakorizo.

This chicken recipe would also work well using bone in chicken breasts and would take less time.

I'll definitely be making this one again.

I am submitting this to 5 Star Foodie's "5 Star Makeover" compound butter challenge. If you have a compound butter recipe with a twist, hop over there and enter it! Thanks to Greg at SippitySup, blogger extraordinaire, for the tip about the challenge.


  1. That looks wonderful! I'm a big chicken eater and will definitely try this!

  2. That chicken looks devastating, I love Greek flavors.

    Heh, Greek fire was some scary stuff, it's probably for the best that you didn't use any to make the chicken.

  3. You sir are a genius. Compound butter with feta and oregano. As soon as my oregano kicks in this year, I am sooooo making this.

  4. Yum! Awesome recipe. Have to say, I get inspiration from a lot of places, but never from an episode of Myth Busters!!

    Love your mess en place too, giggle...

  5. Seeing this chicken delight I wonder: Where is my fork???

    Have a great week,


  6. That looks SO good. I happen to really like chicken!

  7. Chris, this looks deliicous. No doubt the compound butter just melted into your roasted Green Egg chicken, leaving it so very moist. I really like this recipe.

  8. Beautiful job, and I think this is totally do-able with just a single chicken breast, too...You are giving ME ideas now! Woo-hoo!

  9. Chris, that looks excellent and this blog is great. I wish I was as creative as you are could develop a wider variety of items to cook. I tend to get into a rut of cooking the same 1/2 dozen items over and over. Keep up the good work and maybe I will learn something!

  10. Myth busters = Greek fire. Obviously :P

    This chicken sounds stuffed with flavor. And what I'm really loving is that Greek salad. Did you watch the movie while eating it?

  11. Wow, chris, this is magnificent! Roast chicken is one of my absolute favorite meals. Your recipe, the description and the photos capture this dish perfectly - I'm quite impressed and want a bite of that crispy-crusted, juicy chicken. Very nice post.

  12. That chicken looks amazing. Nice looking compound butter. Excellent photos!!

  13. I wish you had called this 'Greek Solar Death Ray' Chicken'. I really, really wish that.

  14. Nice chicken and compound butter. I know 5 Star Foodie is doing a round up with compound butter you should send her this. GREG

  15. Chicken sounds great, with a great name..Greek Fire was some petroleum base, possibly tar, catapulted from ships to ships..exact formula was lost to antiquity...

  16. Hey, it must be in the Spring air. Just last night I made Greek salad with toasted pitas and the whole shebang.

  17. I love this compound butter with feta! Awesome flavors! Thank you so much for sending it in for the 5 Star Makeover!

  18. Looks awesome Chris and sounds flavorful and delicious! Pass me a plate will ya? We had salmon tonight and you know I feel just about the same way you do about fish. But being the kind and loving spouses we are we have to make these sacrifices sometimes. Did I mention wonderful, yes, we are that too ;-)

  19. Naught chicken is on the loose again! Have you warned the public this is a NR piece? Legs that only can can shows, no I cannot say that- it involved eating from the leg down, LOL!

  20. You could have made this over a torch to get that real flamethrower effect, but some people get touchy about that. (Like your homeowner's insurance company.) Looks good!

  21. I've got to find me some of those olives in chardonnay. This chicken looks wonderful. I'm really itching for more spring days so I can grill up my favorite chicken. I posted it last summer but I didn't have any readers back then.


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