Stuffed chicken legs are a recipe for success. Looking festive, fragrant, scented, filled with delicious Greek and Mediterranean herbs and feta browned crust, cozy, Greek-style stuffed legs are a true Dionysian experience.
No need to fear a meticulous procedure, because everything develops simple, rustic, easy. Greek cuisine is cozy, friendly, that leaves the imagination free.
Today we cook a mixture of gyros spices at home in traditional style, in the mortar, with natural and healthy ingredients. You will see how simple it is, how pleasant and relaxing is to work in harmony with nature. It is known that ancient physicians considered food as a drug and the most famous physician of ancient Greece, Hippocrates said "Let the food be your medicine and the medicine be your food".
My recipe for stuffed chicken legs in Greek style wants to bring a bit of flavor in the kitchen, a bit of good humor, to open to natural and beautiful. This is not a traditional Greek recipe, it's a recipe I created using many ingredients of Greek cuisine, in a time when I was expecting dear guests at the meal. It was a great success, with cool white wine brought even from Greece's vineyards, so I'd like to share it with you.
First wash well the legs and then drain them well. Remove the bone from the superior legs, which will take you no more than 1-2 minutes for each leg, even less after acquired dexterity.
Place the outside part of the leg down and the interior part up. Palpate in the middle of the flesh to feel where it's the bone. Make an incision to the bone (use a small and sharp knife). Then remove the meat from the bone.
Make an incision in the joint between the superior and inferior leg bones and then break it with the hand, until you feel that the joint in loosened.
Using the fingers and the knife, remove the upper bone part from the meat. Do that also in the superior part.
Now, you only have to do the same with the lateral bone.
Now we have a superior leg without bone. Why did I want to remove the bone only in the superior part? Because in the end they will look like whole legs and the surprise will be even bigger when the guests will discover that besides the flavored crust, the legs are filled.
And, following this simple procedure (incision to the superior bone, joint incision + strain, bone incision and break), we will remove all the bones from the legs we want to prepare.
In my case were 12 legs, cooked with different fillings and glazes.
After washing well legs without bones, let them drain until the gyros spice is ready.
Gyros can be prepared in many ways, all very similar, but obviously, with small differences depending on the region.
Ingredients for gyros:
-Dry onion flakes
-Cayenne pepper (or hot paprika)
-Granulated and fresh garlic
-Fresh herbs: green mint, marjoram, thyme (I had "thyme citron" which has the flavor of lemon), oregano (I had dried oregano), rosemary (dried).
Put a handful of onion flakes in a mortar and add a teaspoon of sea salt. Start to press until well ground.
Add a teaspoon of sweet paprika, half a teaspoon of hot paprika (or more if you want), dried oregano, dried rosemary and continue to grind.
The aromas go well together, which will convince you that you are on track.
Add one teaspoon of cumin and coriander, a teaspoon of black pepper.
Put a tablespoon of granulated garlic (or 3 ground cloves of garlic).
Finally, a little secret: crumble a bay leaf and add it. Continue to grind until you get a homogeneous mixture.
The mixture looks like gyros, where we will add the freshly chopped herbs.
I prefer to put dried oregano and rosemary in the basic mixture, to combine better with other spices and create a wonderful aromatic base. I cut and add the other vegetables to the final. Because now I was going to make stuffed legs, I added the aromatic herbs in the filling, to feel like aromatic accents. If I just made a gyros mix for roast, I would have put them in the mortar, I would have added a dash of olive oil and lemon juice and I would have stirred until I would have got a smooth paste (I have given this suggestion for the moments when you want a great marinade for grilled steak - use the gyros).
Now we have boneless legs, the gyros mixture so what remains for us to make is the filling. I doubled the gyros quantity, for I had many legs.
Make a salad of finely chopped small cubes of feta cheese, chopped red onion, chopped red pepper (if you do not want it spicy, use red pepper) and of course fresh herbs: mint, thyme, lemon, marjoram. You can add sliced black olives. Everything that is Greek is welcome:)
Now we are ready to make the filled legs.
We take each leg and rub it with gyros, both inside and outside.
When we do this, it helps spread the aroma and the meat will be perfectly seasoned.
Place a tablespoon of filling inside the superior leg.
Cover the filling, folding the leg - restoring its original shape and secure the ends with toothpicks.
Put more toothpicks, to maintain the leg fastened while baking.
You can bake the legs on potatoes or directly into the greased pan with olive oil.
Do not wash the mortar immediately. Add some cold water and dissolve the spices debris left on the walls. Add this water in the tray with the legs, to keep them hydrated.
Now unscrew a bottle of Greek white wine and put half a glass of wine in the pan (if you don't have Greek wine, the Romanian on is just as good, dry white and slightly fragrant).
When you pour the liquids into the tray, be sure to pour on the edge, near the legs, do not wash the spice crust on the surface.
And to really create sensation, decorate the tray with many aromatic leaves (mint, thyme, marjoram, oregano), all fresh.
Peel a few cloves of garlic and cut slices, add them in the tray near the legs. Finally, squeeze a lemon over the legs.
Now everything is ready prepared. The next step is optional, but it's better to follow. All you have to do is to cover the tray with aluminum foil and leave it for about one hour at room temperature. If you want to marinate longer, then refrigerate for several hours and one hour before you put in the oven, leave at room temperature.
If you have time, put the pan directly into the preheated oven to 180 degrees, covered with aluminum foil. After an hour, remove the foil and let it brown. Sprinkle often with sauce from pan.
Now they are ready. Smells so inviting!
Remove the toothpicks before serving.
Serve rustic, simple, with the sauce in the pan, baked potatoes (if you have), tzatziki sauce and salad.
I only had one tray with legs and one with potatoes. In the potatoes tray I added a few slices of smoked Kaiser for the flavor. No need to say how scented the potatoes came out:). I made a tray of assorted cooked vegetables in order to have a dietetic variant.
When serving, sprinkle freshly chopped aromatic greens.
Now a section:
And the tzatziki sauce:
The cool white wine, warm feta, flavored with melted red onion, the traditional Greek flavors of pungent peppers awakened by the freshness of lemon and the fresh herbs perfume notes; all these have created a very friendly and delicious menu, just what I wanted for my guests.
You will see that the simple, rustic, carefully prepared food will create a special atmosphere at the table.
I made a classic recipe of Greek cuisine, but I respected the tradition and values of Greek cuisine and we see why the Greeks (and the Mediterranean people generally) are happier, more smiling and in a good mood.
To share a simple meal with someone helps us socialize, to be open and not live isolated.
I hope my filled legs recipe will bring joy and happiness!
Enjoy your meal!