Although it is a classic greek home summer recipe, oven-cooked chicken with tomato and okra has had housewives and chefs scratching their heads, if one is to judge by the amount of entries of this specific recipe listed online.
All of them contain a certain degree of difficulty, but I personally can’t understand why : at home, I was taught that this summer dish was easy and delicious, and it was never once referred to as ‘difficult’. Maybe that’s because we never allowed the okra to “cure for hours in vinegar” or other cumbersome and inhibiting cooking preparations listed on the internet.
We usually cooked this dish in the end of summer, when we’d pick the last tomatoes of the season for our grated tomato paste which would last us a couple of months. Before winter set in and tomatoes disappeared for months to come, we’d have saved enough tomato paste. Then, when we returned back to Athens from our small village cottage, we’d switch to food cooked in wine and lemon sauces. I don’t remember cooking much with tomato sauce in the wintertime.
Chicken with okra is not a difficult dish. The butcher cuts the chicken into portions, you grate your fresh, ripe tomatoes and the only thing that requires a bit more time is the cleaning of the okra. Yes, I admit, that can be a bit of a hassle and it’s not always easy finding enough time to do it. Maybe that’s why this dish is considered by some a leisurely summer one. Because difficult it is not! And , yes, you can use frozen okra for this.
So, perhaps try cooking it on a Sunday? It is definitely worth your time!
Chicken with Okra and Fresh Tomatoes
Ask our butcher to cut the chicken into eight portions and, preferably, choose a free-range or organic chicken.
Rinse the chicken pieces well under cold tap running water, pat dry and season well with salt and pepper.
Place the chicken in a wide lightly greased baking tray or Pyrex , leaving space in between for the okra which has to be flat and in one layer.
Rinse off the okra well and , wearing kitchen gloves, rub it between your palms to get rid of their slightly prickly skin (if you use fresh okra).
Clean the okra (about ½ a kilo/17.63 oz): cut a little bit of the stalk and remove only the harder part of the stem with a sharp knife leaving the natural conical part untouched. Lay the okra around the chicken in one flat layer and season with salt and pepper.
Grate about 5-6 ripe tomatoes (not too finely grated). Add a teaspoon of sugar and mix.
Using a spoon, cover the chicken with the grated tomatoes and sprinkle with olive oil.
Bake in a preheated oven (200C/392F) for about one hour until chicken is cooked through and the okra is nicely baked.