One summer I was living on Cape Cod with a couple of college friends. We were having such a great time together that we decided to stay longer. (Living on Cape Cod can be wonderful in the wintertime. The beaches are empty and many of the restaurants and shops are closed; it might not be swimsuit weather, but the tourists are gone, there’s no traffic, and you can take long walks on the beach without tripping over a sleeping sunburned body. The place we were renting had originally been a one-room cottage but the owners had added on to it over the years one room at a time, so the kitchen was carpeted while the living room/dining room floor was linoleum. Being students, we were living on a shoestring budget. We all took turns cooking dinner and one day I decided to roast a turkey. Stuffing the bird, I rubbed it with butter, salt and pepper, and slid it into a brown paper bag the way I had seen my mother do many times. Then I tied the end of the bag with kitchen twine and placed it in a roasting pan, which I put in the oven. (Roast turkey takes a few hours, so it can dry out; the bag was supposed to keep
the meat moist.) I set the timer and left the room. After an hour, I came back to check on the turkey and the kitchen was filled with smoke. I tore open the oven door, yanked out the oven rack as far as it would go, and where the rack stopped, the roasting pan continued… to slide. The turkey rolled onto the carpet. The brown paper bag was in flames. (The bag had caught on fire because the oven was small and the bag was touching the electric elements at the top of the oven. Lesson learned.) I threw a dish towel over the flames and the fire went out. As I lifted the turkey up, parts of the still smoking bag stuck to the carpet. I put the bird back in the pan, closed the oven door and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to clean up the mess.
This recipe is not for stuffed turkey but stuffed chicken thighs. You don’t have to put them in a bag, so don’t worry about them bursting into flames in your oven.
(makes 1 cup)
½ cup feta
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons kalamata olives (about 8)
2 tablespoons green olives (3 large)
1 tablespoon capers, drained
lemon zest from ½ lemon (optional)
2 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
In a food processor add tomatoes, olives, capers, parsley, and zest (if using). Pulse until finely chopped. Add yogurt and feta and pulse until almost smooth. It is fine to have some small lumps of feta.
This spread is also great on its own with bread, crackers, raw vegetables, or spread on a sandwich.
Will keep in the fridge for a week to 10 days.
Stuffed Chicken Thighs
1 1/2 lb. of boneless skinless chicken thighs (4 or 5 thighs)
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 eggs (beaten)
½-1 cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup of feta spread (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350°
Put the chicken thighs between two sheets of plastic wrap, wax paper, or parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, pound the thighs so that each thigh is an even thickness
Place a tablespoon of feta spread in the middle of each thigh. Starting from the bottom, fold the thigh in half (making a kind of pocket for the feta). Tuck any loose ends into the pocket.Secure with three toothpicks. If the thighs are small break a toothpick in half and, holding the thigh with one hand, push each half into the top of the thigh, securing the thigh closed. Do the same on both sides.
Place two pieces of wax paper about 12 inches long on the counter. Spread the flour on one and panko bread crumbs on another. Place the beaten eggs in a medium-sized bowl between them.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. While it is heating, coat the thighs with flour, egg and panko: gently roll the stuffed thigh in the flour, covering it completely. Next dip the floured thigh in the beaten egg, again covering it completely. Now roll it carefully in the bread crumbs, taking care not to loosen the toothpicks.
Add a pad of butter and 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Once the butter has melted add the chicken thighs and cook until golden, about 4 minutes on each side. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Make sure you use an oven mitt to take the pan out of the oven. Serve warm.
Written by: Claudia Alexander