Kotopoulo Kokinisto me Xilopites (Tomato Braised Chicken Thighs with Greek Egg Noodles)
4 - 6 Chicken Thighs with Bone-In and Skin -On (About 3 Pounds)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion, Grated
2 Smashed Garlic Gloves (Leave Whole)
1 Cup Tap Water
1/3 Cup Tomato Paste
2 Teaspoons Granulated Sugar
1 – 24oz. Bottle of Strained Tomatoes or Canned Tomato Sauce
2 Cups Dry Greek Egg Noodles (12 oz.) – "xilopites" (see note)
Salt and Pepper
3 - 4 Cups Boiling Water
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan or Grated Greek Cheese (see note)
1. Remove the chicken thighs from the packaging. Pat dry, sprinkle each side generously with Salt and Pepper. Leave out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
2. Using a food processor, or a box grater, grate the Onion, so it looks like onion purée or mashed potatoes. Set aside.
3. Using a dutch oven large enough to fit all of your chicken, heat the olive oil over medium high heat for about one minute. When oil is glistening, add the Chicken, skin side down, browning the skin. Flip the Chicken onto the second side when the skin releases from the bottom of the pot very easily, no sticking. Each side will take about 2 to 3 minutes. After both sides are browned, remove the Chicken from the pot and place onto a plate and set aside.
4. In the same pot that you browned the Chicken, turn the heat to medium and add the Onion, Garlic Cloves, 2 Teaspoon Salt and 1 Teaspoon Pepper. With a wooden spoon, stir these for about one minute, then add the Tomato Paste, stirring for one minute, then add 1 Cup Tap Water, Strained Tomatoes or Tomato Sauce and Sugar. Bring to a boil for a couple of minutes.
5. Return the Chicken and any juices that have collected on the plate into the pot and bring it all back to a boil. After one minute turn the heat down bringing it all to a low simmer and cover. Cook the Chicken like this for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, so that the bottom does not burn. (This really depends on how hot your stove gets when it is on a low simmer)
6. After 30 minutes remove the Chicken from the pot. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the Dry Egg Noodles and the Boiling Water. Bring it all to a boil and stir continuously for about 3 minutes, taking care that the noodles are not sticking together. After 3 minutes, return it to a low simmer and cover for about 6 minutes. Give it a stir every couple of minutes and when the pasta is tender, return the Chicken to the pot. Cover, allowing the chicken to get nice and hot again. At this time taste one more time for seasoning, and remember that you are going to add cheese, which is salty too, so be careful to not go overboard. You may also add more water if it seems at all dry.
7. To serve, scoop a generous amount of pasta and one or 2 pieces of chicken on each person's plate and then generously sprinkle with cheese!
Greeks use a special Egg Noodle called Xilopites. These can be found at Greek Specialty Stores, like Bill's Imported Foods in the Lyn-Lake Neighborhood of Minneapolis. Other options for pasta that you can get at your neighborhood supermarket are: Orzo Pasta or a teeny Farfelle (Bow Tie Noodle). These use the same basic pasta to water ratio.
For the cheese Greeks would use Kasseri or Mizithra, two harder sheep's milk cheeses that can be found also at Bill's, or in the imported cheese section of many local super markets. However, Parmesan, is a perfect substitution!
Lastly, you might be tempted to make this with less olive oil, or boneless and skinless chicken things, and you absolutely can. However, I encourage you the first time to make it as is! It is all the delicious flavor that renders from the chicken along with the sweetness of the olive oil that makes this so delicious!!
Also, you can make this in advance, the flavors get even yummier. Plus, you can make this in the morning and leave it in the oven on super low heat, the chicken will remain very tender! Don't worry about the pasta getting too soft, this is how the Greeks like it!