Today I need talk about one of my favorite Greek meat recipes: Kotopoulo Kokkinisto. It is one of my all time favorite chicken dishes. Kokkinisto, refers to the method of cooking in tomato sauce. Kokkino means red and kokkinisto mean reddened. A large number of dishes in Greece are kokkinista: almost all summer vegetables are cooked in a combination of tomato, olive oil, herbs and spices. Examples include okra, green beans and eggplant. But meats are often cooked in tomato sauce as well. Kotopoulo kokkinisto is a common favorite, and I remember both my grandmothers occasionally making this dish, usually on Sundays or other special occasions, by using their own chickens from the yard.
But apart from the flavor, this dish is healthy. Studies have shown that when tomato is cooked with olive oil, the absorption of lycopene in increased. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that may protect from cancer and heart disease. Also it is important to know that even cooked tomatoes retain some of the vitamin C, and the presence of vitamin C from the tomatoes increases your absorption of iron from the meat. The amount of olive oil used in this recipe is actually small, corresponding to less than a tablespoon per person, so you are getting a dish moderate in fat and rich in protein and antioxidants. I tend to add more tomatoes than usual so I can incorporate another serving of vegetables to the dish. This can be accompanied with potatoes or other starch such as pasta or rice. I used brown rice (cannot really tell in the photo), but sometimes we just make the chicken and accompany it with some salad and a slice of bread.
Greek Chicken Cooked in Tomato-Kotopoulo Kokkinisto
- 1 ½ pound chicken in pieces- with or without skin-You can use a 3 lb. whole chicken and just double the amount of the rest of the ingredients.
- 2 onions diced
- 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 minced garlic cloves
- 16-20 ounces diced tomatoes- fresh or canned
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3-4 allspice berries
- 1 bay leaf
- Pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- In a large deep pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the chicken pieces on both sides for about 8-10 minutes total.
- Set the chicken aside and sauté the onion until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute.
- Add the rest of the ingredients (tomato, cinnamon stick, all spice, bay leaf, salt and pepper) and about 1/3 cup of water and mix well. Add the chicken and blend.
- Cover the pan and let it simmer for about 45 minutes, until chicken is cooked.
- In the meantime, prepare your side dish (rice or pasta) or your salad.
- Serve warm.
It came out amazing!
I highly, highly recommend adding tomato paste towards the end of cooking. It makes it “tomatoier” and thickens up the sauce.
Also, if you use fresh tomatoes, try Roma. Deseed, cut into chunks, throw into a strainer, and hand squeeze all the juice out into a pot. You can also throw in some of the squeezed out tomato chunks if you like your sauce chunkier.
From the Lakonia region, my grandmother was a legend cook in our village. Many villagers would come to her for recipes and hints. She only cooked by hand and by eye, NEVER followed a recipe. I once tried to make a recipe book with her when I was younger, and she’d always tell me “there are no measurements. It’s all feel.”