Well, I thought that the sunny days were here to stay, but seemingly the powers that be decided that what West Yorkshire really needed last week was a long, humid shower for 72 hours followed by a weekend in a wind tunnel.
We’re clearly being punished for having so many elections. You’ll see here that I had planned something fresh, and so unutterably, well, sunny, that you’d all be diving off to the shops and stocking up on the Retsina.
Yet as I put the finishing touches to this article, I can’t see beyond the end of the garden for mist and rain. Certainly not ideal conditions for whipping up a Greek treat. But we must prevail. Who knows, we might get some clear weather by the time you’re reading this.
Today we’re embracing the Greeks and their love of the chicken.
No dusty island village is complete without a rabble of chickens pecking about in the streets, or the distant screech of a cockerel echoing through the olive groves.
The cockerel is seen as a guard against evil forces by many Greeks, which is why the image occurs so much in their pottery, art and also why there’s almost always one within earshot.
Luckily, the chicken is also seen as delicious, and features in hundreds of local recipes.
This, though, is not an authentic recipe, as far as I know, but whenever we cook this at home it reminds me of the Greek holidays of my youth, dozing under deep blue skies and a baking hot sun, the scents of the dusty brush wafting around – the herbs and the citrus leaves.
You wander down to a small cove, where there is a small unassuming taverna. Wine is ordered. Perhaps a refreshing ouzo.
As the sun glints off the deep blue water, the scent of grilling meat and fish reaches the nose and sets the appetite racing. Enough to send you to the computer to book that week’s holiday, isn’t it?
It’s a very long time since I was last in Greece, but every now and then I’m transported back by the scents of barbecue and those sweet wild herbs.
The ‘holy trinity’ of Greek herbs (dill, rosemary and oregano) are all here in this dish, along with the other traditional flavours.
Sharp creamy yoghurt, tart lemon and the hit of plenty of fresh garlic all come together to lend the chicken a very Mediterranean feel, and a few green olives round the main dish off nicely.
I wanted some texture here too, so come crunchy roasted new potatoes with soft slivers of slippery onion, boosted by fresh rosemary fit the bill nicely.
And a simple Greek-style salad rounds things off. I left out the feta cheese as I thought it a flavour too far, but by all means go for it if you’d like. And of course, in proper Greek style, there’s no vinaigrette.
The salad should be dressed on the plate with drizzles of oil and red wine vinegar recreating that holiday experience.
And there we are, a smashing light supper or lunch dish that will fling you across Europe in an instant.
Just don’t forget your brolly.
For the chicken:
8 corn-fed chicken legs
500g Greek yoghurt
4 large cloves garlic, minced
The grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
A small bunch of dill, chopped
A few stems of fresh oregano, chopped
150g pitted green olives
Maldon salt and freshly-ground black pepper
For the potatoes:
500g new potatoes (Jersey Royals very good at the moment)
1 large onion, finely sliced
A splash of good olive oil
A few sprigs of rosemary
Maldon salt and freshly-ground black pepper
A few good ripe tomatoes
1 small cucumber, diced
2 heads gem lettuce, shredded
1 red onion, sliced
Good olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Mix the yoghurt with the garlic; lemon juice and zest, plus a little salt and pepper, and stir in the freshly-shopped herbs.
Toss the chicken legs in this mixture, covering every inch, and then spread out on a suitable baking tray, along with the olives. Set aside, covered, for an hour or so – somewhere cool, or even in the fridge.
Now prepare the potatoes. Sweat the onion in a big splash of olive oil with a pinch of salt until soft and translucent, about 30 minutes. Set aside.
Simmer the potatoes in well-salted water until you can just get the blade of a knife into the centre.
Drain and allow to cool, then halve them and toss with the oil and onions, and add some chopped rosemary and a good amount of seasoning.
Tip into an ovenproof dish big enough that you can space out the potatoes in a single layer, densely-packed. Set aside. Heat the oven to 190ºC / Gas 5.
Mix the salad vegetables in a small bowl and set aside. Bake the chicken for about 45 minute to an hour, depending on the size of the chicken legs.
After 20 minutes, pop the potatoes in the oven. When cooking time is complete, test a chicken leg to see if the juices run clear, and if so, go ahead and serve with the rosemary potatoes and a small simple Greek salad, dressed at the last minute with drizzles of oil and vinegar.