Oregano Chicken – A Simple Dish with a Regal Air

Day 315

Maybe it’s that we’re finally getting into a rhythm two months into the school year. (Has it only been 2 months?) A “Limp-a-long Cassidy” kind of rhythm but a rhythm nonetheless. Maybe it’s that the days are shorter. The kids are in bed earlier. The house is quieter. The rainy season has begun. I don’t know. But on the sporadic occasion that the afternoon sun bursts through our windows and lays down a warm path of light across our floor, I look for him.

Day 314

A month into our marriage, we were still in the stage where we were more than happy to appease each other’s little obsessions. Such as me pretending to be a runner and him pretending to love furry little animals. So, somehow knowing that this stage wouldn’t last forever, I dragged my new beau across town and pulled down off the curtains a little bundle of fur which we would bring home and have with us for the next 18 years. (As for the running, I dropped it shortly after and that was that.) Wanting to encourage any possible bonding between man and beast, I encouraged my sweetie to name our bundle of joy. He pronounced him, “Bruce.” And Bruce, it was. Others came after him. Another cat. An 80-pound dog. But at the 18-year mark, Bruce was the only one still around.

He had this way of silently being everywhere. As if he could materialize out of thin air. One would sit down and out of nowhere he was curled up on your lap or trying his darndest to curl up on your chest and snuggle his head in the crook of your neck which could sometimes be a little awkward for guests. You wouldn’t see him for hours and then, “boom” there he was waiting to curl up under the covers for a good night’s sleep. Or eerily you would notice that one minute no one’s there and the next minute there he was sitting ramrod tall right next to your keyboard as you typed away. Every now and then, stepping on the keyboard just to make sure you noticed him. And the lawn….oh, the lawn. It had never looked better since he moonlighted as a mole catcher. And catch moles he did. Always leaving his handiwork for us to admire on the front porch.

Day 48

I tend to put out of my mind the fact that he could actually “fling poo.” That he found it necessary to cough up a hairball, “Puss N’ Boots” style wherever we might least suspect it but were sure to step in it. That he was known to howl like a coyote, over and over, for hours, especially middle of the night hours, when he didn’t get his way. (Although, that howl saved his life when, in his old age, he lost his way home.) That he would run from one end of the house to the other like a cat gone mad during a full moon. And that he had a peculiar tick of sucking his paw that could be thought of as tender and sweet or as just plain weird depending on one’s mood.

Day 109

A couple of nights ago, as I prepared our family dinner of herbed chicken simmered in wine and served along roasted potatoes, I looked for him. I expected him to be silently standing nearby, regally sniffing the air around him like some upper crust feline and secretly hoping that one little morsel of that chicken might fall to the floor. And it’s true, he may have silently left his spot by my side and gone directly to the front door where he purposely coughed up a hairball “just because” but that doesn’t matter. I miss that furry feline. His presence.

And don’t you think it’s true that whether it’s a person or a hairball coughing cat, when they are gone, we don’t think of the good or the bad but simply their presence? And I definitely miss the presence of that howling, paw sucking, poo flinging, furry feline.

Bruce went to the Happy Hunting Grounds in April where I’m sure he is happily keeping the lush grounds mole free. It’s strange though how I miss him most now. Now that the house is quieter.

A Quick Question for You Before the Recipe:

My kind and generous mother has been tirelessly preparing our Thanksgiving turkey, gravy and stuffing  almost every year since, well, since I was born which is to say….a long, long time. Whether the crowd was 5 of us or 20 of us, she would selflessly prepare the dinner’s main attraction and for that, I and many others are so grateful. Well, now that she has two daughters of “a certain age” (little brother gets a free pass this year since he has a newborn on his hands), the time for the passing of the torch has come. And the torch has landed squarely in my lap. (Funny how the eldest child has to do everything!) (Ahh….just kiddin’ sister.) So, I have been researching turkey preparations and I’m intrigued by the brining method. What do you think? Do you brine? What do you like in your brine? Or is it a lot of extra mess? If you don’t brine, do you have a special rub you like? If you don’t mind sharing your thoughts with me, I would be grateful. Trying to follow in the footsteps of my grandmother and mother….well, let’s just say…”Pressure’s on!”

Chicken and her cousin...the potato

Oregano Chicken Simmered in White Wine

Now, that the holidays are looking us square in the face, I’m assuming most of us have thought of the main meal….the Grandaddy meal….but what about the other nights? Are your guests only there for the Thanksgiving extravaganza or will they need to be fed other evenings as well? Well, this is a dish I love to serve to guests. (Although, be forewarned, if you drink the wine that you’ll be cooking with while cooking, it can lead to lots of animated chatting and loud laughing which will ensure that the dinner won’t actually hit the table until 8pm or later.) This isn’t a dish you prepare in advance or leave in a crock pot all day, but it is one that has only a few ingredients, minimal prep and sits in the oven for 45 minutes while you drink wine and chat clean up the kitchen and prepare the side dishes. I use a variety of chicken pieces…always with the bone-in and skin-on. This makes for a much moister meat and it’s easier on the pocket-book. You can always take off the skin once it’s done cooking if you’d prefer not to eat it. If you don’t have fresh oregano handy, you could always use rosemary or thyme. And as a testimonial to this dish, the last time I made it my 5-year old said to me, “Mawm, you prob’ly won’t be too surprised when I say this to you, but that dinner was so delicious.”

Oregano Chicken with Lemon and White Wine
4.0 from 1 reviews
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 5-6 servings
This dish is always a crowd pleaser. It has only a few ingredients, minimal prep, and sits in the oven for 45 minutes. I use a variety of white-meat and dark-meat chicken pieces with the bone-in and skin-on. This makes for the moist meat and you can always take off the skin once it's done cooking if you'd prefer not to eat it. For a gluten free version, simply omit the flour and the dredging.
  • A medley of skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces about 3½ to 4 pounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine (I usually use a Pinot Gris.)
  • 4 -6 sprigs of fresh oregano leaves (stems removed and discarded), about ¼ cup of leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Juice of ½ lemon, about 2-3 tablespoons
  • 1½ cups water
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Generously sprinkle your chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Put your flour on a plate and dredge your chicken pieces through it, coating them evenly and shaking off the excess.
  3. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot, one that can move from stove to oven, on your stove over medium heat. Pour in your olive oil to heat. Add your chicken pieces, skin side down and cook for 5 minutes. Flip your pieces over taking care not to tear the skin.
  4. Slowly and carefully pour in your white wine, lemon juice, oregano and bay leaves. Simmer and allow wine to reduce for about 2 minutes.
  5. Pour in 1½ cups of water, put the lid on your pot and put the whole concoction in the oven for about 45 minutes.
  6. If you are using breasts, check them at 35 minutes. Juices should run clear or internal temperature should be at 165 degrees. They may be done since they cook more quickly than the dark meat pieces. If so, remove them, tent with foil, and continue cooking the remaining pieces.
  7. At this point, I usually cut up some potatoes - fingerling, red potatoes, etc - toss them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and sometimes some rosemary, lay them on a roasting sheet, and put them in the oven along with the chicken when there is about 25-30 left of cooking time.
  8. When the timer goes off, take the lid off your pot and allow the skin to crisp for another 5 minutes.
  9. Put your chicken on a platter. Remove and discard the bay leaves from the pot. Pop a ladle next to the pot and have people spoon this heavenly au jus over their chicken and potatoes.
If you don't want to monkey around with preparing the potatoes, you could also serve this with rice which would also soak up all of the delicious au jus beautifully. However you decide to go, enjoy!




  1. First of all, your photos… well you know how I feel about your photos.
    2nd of all your writing…again, you know how much I love your storytelling.
    I put my 16 year old Siamese to sleep 7 years ago now and I still miss her presence terribly. Every once in awhile, in the middle of the night, I swear I feel her jump up onto the bed and make her little ritual of laying on my feet.

  2. RecipeGirl says:

    I agree w/ Kristen- lovely photos and lovely writing. What a nice blog home you have here 🙂

    I've never brined, but I'm thinking I'll do it this year. Everyone says it's wonderful for turning out a moist turkey.

  3. I always enjoy your posts! My dad always does one turkey in the oven and one outside in the smoker.

  4. SMITH BITES says:

    You are a real find – thank you Kristen, for pointing the way. Yes, your writing is a dream – or at least MY dream to write like this someday; and the photos are stunning.

    As for brining – we started brining our turkey about 4 years ago and have never looked back. It's not messy but you do need a large enough refrigerator to accommodate a turkey and container for 2-3 days depending on whose recipe you're using. But it's totally worth it – the best turkeys we've ever served or eaten.

    Good Luck – and I'll be back to read more!

  5. Gorgeous photos and your writing is just as beautiful.

  6. So – here I am commenting again…Mike is the turkey man in our house and he has brined it for many years using my brother-in-law's beer brine from the homebrewchef.com – it's fantastic, moist and always subtley flavorful and I don't think we'd ever do any other – not messy, just need a pot large enough to hold it in for 2-3 days in the fridge. Good Luck! -Jennifer S

  7. We brined the past two years, and were rewarded with moist, delicious, wonderful. My mom injects with a rosemary infused applejuice, and her results are also delightful.
    The blog is lovely.

  8. Sandy @ RE says:

    Brining this year. LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU!

  9. Well, I was away from my computer most of the afternoon and evening, returned home to find all of your sweet, sweet comments. Made my day. Thank you and thank you also for all of the tips on brinng/turkey prep. I need all the information/help I can get. Cross your fingers for me.

  10. Courtney Cook Hopp says:

    Hello . . . I said I would help. 🙂

  11. Oh, sister, I was just kidding you knowing you would most likely read this. That is also the role of the eldest child…to kid around with the youngsters. And seeing how yesterday's trial run went down, you better help me. I'm just not feeling the turkey love.

  12. Loved reading the post (as always – lovely story writing, delicious recipe and inviting photos!) This one really touched my heart – enjoyed hearing about Bruce- quirks and all. I had my orange tabby for 20 years and despite having a new cat for a bit now, I still look for him at times 🙂

  13. Beautiful…just beautiful, your post touches my heart & soul as usual. I totally get the "eldest daughter torch" I've carried it for a few years now. However this year we are all going to the country, to our family cabin, so I have been spared. I'm sure that you will not disappoint!:)

  14. Hi Carrie – I saw your segment on AM Northwest this morning and enjoyed it very much. I'm always happy to meet another Portland blogger and am amazed by how many of us there are in this part of the world. You have a wonderful blog and I can't wait to try your chicken recipe.

  15. Rachelle Sims says:

    I brine my turkey~ I use Alton Brown's recipe from FoodNetwork~ works like a charm.
    Love you blog~ I live in Gearhart(on the coast of Oregon) and its fun to read a "local" blog.

  16. Hi Carrie, I have brined our turkey the last 4 years or so. It has always turned out deliciously moist so I will likely continue to do so. The only disappointment I have with brining is that the drippings are too salty to use for gravy – perhaps there are brine recipes which still allow you to do this but mine does notm unfortunately.

  17. Deanna-Thank you, my dear. Funny how those little furry family members make such an imprint on our lives.

    Wenderly-I should have known you were eldest child as well. 🙂 Have a fabulous time in the country. Can't wait to hear all about it.

    Cathy-Thank you for stopping by La Pomme. Immediately went over to your blog, Wives with Knives. Lovely. Can't wait to read more…

    Rachelle – Thanks to you too for stopping by La Pomme and I appreciate the tip on the Alton Brown spices. I need all the advice I can get.

    Julie-How have we never talked about this? I'll be knocking on your door in a minute neighbor to find out what spices you use in your brining. As for the gravy, The Pioneer Woman, just did a post on her blog addressing this issue if you're interested.

  18. I am just reading this now and it has been a few years since you have written it. I love your style of writing just as so many others have. It was so touching for it to start in away that brought us into the beginning of your marriage in a sweet intimate way and then flash forward to all the years later. Yet it has even been a few years more since you wrote it and have lost Bruce. While I am sure you still miss him for his unique personality you will always have your memories and this everlasting tribute. Your pictures are beautiful as well. I am looking forward to trying your recipe and hope that all has turned out well for you in your passing of the torch.


  1. […] had been sitting unused, out-of-sight since our kitty went up the Happy Hunting Grounds – God Rest his furry soul – a year […]

  2. […] been thinking, what if I get the turkey cut into pieces and cook it the same way I cook my Oregano Chicken? Seems like it would be nice and moist and flavorful. Wouldn’t take as long to roast. You […]