Simple ingredients slow-cooked to create the perfect Greek comfort food
There is a whole world of Greek food called kokkinista (κοκκινιστά), and we love them all. The term kokkinista means reddened, and the concept behind these dishes is simple; take a protein or vegetable, cook it slowly in a rich tomato sauce, serve it over something that can help sop up this lovely sauce, and realize that great food does not need to be fancy or complicated.
We have already posted some classic kokkinista dishes like chicken kokkinisto served with french fries and veal kokkinisto served with rice. Both of these meals are incredibly comforting, filling and very easy to put together. Because you can never have too much of a good thing, today, chicken kokkinisto with pasta joins the party. This recipe uses enough tomato sauce to not only stew the chicken, but to also to coat the pasta. When grated mizithra gets added, this meal is one of the greatest things you can possibly eat. Seriously. We’re not kidding. Not even a little bit.
Our parents use their homemade tomato sauce for their kokkinisto; you can find the recipe for their sauce here. However, if you don’t have any homemade tomato sauce handy, and aren’t planning to make some any time soon, simply use the best quality jarred or canned tomato sauce that you can find.
The olive oil listed in the ingredient list is an approximation. You will fry your chicken in 1/2 cup of olive oil and then your sauce will take a total of 1/2 cup of olive oil. You will use the oil that you used to fry your chicken, but you might have to top it off as described in the recipe.
Simple foods such as this really benefit from using the best quality ingredients. Along with using a homemade tomato sauce if possible, try to find organic, free-range chicken. The price is usually higher, but the taste is also so much better.
The cloves listed in this recipe are optional. According to our parents it is quite traditional to use cloves in this recipe, but one of us hates cloves and so they tend not to include them. If you are going to use
this vile ingredient cloves, be sure to pluck them out of your sauce before you serve the meal. Have you ever bitten into a clove? It’s nasty (says the clove hater)!
The pasta you use is totally up to you but for this dish our parents almost always use some variation of long Misko pasta, which is a popular Greek pasta. If you can find it where you live, go ahead and use it. If not, you can either be really committed to authenticity and order it online, or use another brand of pasta.
The amount of mizithra listed is an approximation. Truth is, one of us loves mizithra so much that one plate of dinner alone can use up 1/2 cup of cheese. More reasonable people however will use much less, so the 1/2 cup listed is probably reasonable for 4 – 6 servings.
If you cannot find mizithra, you can substitute a combination of grated romano and grated parmesan cheeses. Or, you can order your mizithra online; if you’re going to do that, you may as well order the Misko pasta too!
Mia Kouppa: Chicken Kokkinisto with pasta
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil + approximately another 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cups homemade tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 – 3 whole cloves, optional
- 500 grams pasta
- 1/2 cup grated mizithra, approximately
- Butcher your chicken to give you 8 serving pieces; you should end up with 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings and 2 breasts. If your chicken breasts are large, you can cut them in half and therefore end up with a total of 10 pieces. Remove any excess fat, but leave the skin on the chicken. Sprinkle the salt evenly over your chicken and set aside.
- In a deep frying pan heat 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add your chicken to the pan and begin frying it. Do not overcrowd your pan as this will reduce the heat; it is better to fry your chicken in two batches if your pan is not large enough to fit it all in at once.
- Fry your chicken for approximately 5 – 7 minutes per side, until golden brown. As your chicken cooks, place it in a large pot.
- After all of your chicken is fried and has been transferred to the pot VERY CAREFULLY transfer the hot oil to a glass measuring cup. Add enough extra olive oil to bring the total volume to 1/2 cup.
- Pour this oil into the pot over the chicken. Add the tomato sauce, water, cinnamon, pepper and cloves if you are using them.
- Bring the contents of the pot to a boil and then reduce to medium heat. Cook, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove cover and check sauce; it should be relatively thick and coating the chicken pieces nicely. Cook uncovered for another 5 – 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the packaging directions.
- When the pasta is done, drain it well and get ready to serve. Toss your pasta with mizithra cheese (at least 2 tablespoons per serving) and then ladle on some chicken and accompanying sauce. Be sure to remove the cloves from the sauce if you used them. Enjoy.