This adaptable, tried-and-true Greek family recipe for lemony roasted potatoes is simple, fresh, and packs a flavorful punch.
Special guest Christina is back with another classic Greek recipe, and her background information is as warmly entertaining as her recipe is delicious! Pair the lemony potatoes with Chicken Gyros or serve as a complementary side dish to chicken, fish, steak, and lamb.
Roasted potatoes are standard fare as a side dish for our favorite proteins and salads. But when prepared Greek-style, for some reason they taste even better!
Our neighbor and friend, Christina Mattson, was kind enough to share her recipe and join us in the kitchen to demonstrate how her family has made Greek-Style Lemon Potatoes for generations.
In Christina’s words, here is the backstory on these tasty bites…
In one of the most meme-d scenes from the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” the mother of the bride-to-be is seen peeling a veritable mountain of potatoes in preparation for a “small” family gathering that she is hosting to meet the groom’s parents.
The reason this scene is so iconic is because in every Greek household in the world—from Greece to Canada and the United States to Australia—there is always, always a Yiayia peeling potatoes.
In my own family, my paternal great-grandmother was actually nicknamed “Yiayia Patata,” partially to distinguish her from my maternal great-grandmother, “Yiayia Karpouzis” (“Karpouzis” is our family name but also the Greek word for “watermelon”), but mostly because she was most often found sitting on an upturned bucket peeling potatoes for the family restaurant (the now-closed Sun Restaurant of James Street in Lancaster, PA).
In this version of Greek lemon potatoes, I actually omit the peeling in favor of a quicker prep time and crispier potato, but the rich, tart flavor of olive oil and lemon remains.
My family frequently omits the chicken stock option because we prefer a crispier potato AND we fast from meat on Wednesdays, Fridays, and during the lead up to other Orthodox feast days. So, more often than not, I just make these potatoes with olive oil and lemons.
However, on Easter or other special occasions (like those aforementioned feast days), I will break out the chicken stock to create a richer and even more flavorful dish. The addition of chicken stock means that you are really braising the potatoes rather than roasting them, thus leading to a softer texture. However, what you lose in crispiness, you make up for with flavor because the potatoes soak up the stock and become even more delicious.
Notes from Ann…
I have served these potatoes with Christina’s recipe for Chicken Gyros, and they also pair well with nearly any protein or in place of a standard roasted potato recipe. Jack is not a huge fan of lemon, so I err on the light side, but Emily’s family loves it so she uses the full amount of lemon juice. Just watch out for those beautiful baked lemons, because my niece Evie thought one was a potato and ate it whole! (She enjoyed it, but not everyone may be as pleased).
Emily has made the peeled version with the broth several times, and her family thinks it is equally as delicious and similar to Greek potatoes they used to enjoy in New York. She does mention that this method yields a much softer, creamier potato for those who want to try.
Either way, we hope you enjoy them surrounded by people you love too.
Kali Orexi! (Good Appetite!)