Chicken Stewed in Garlic and Cinnamon

This chicken stewed in garlic and cinnamon, called kota kapama, gets depth of flavor from wine, tomato paste, and Greek cheese. A classic recipe made inexpensively and easily from pantry staples. In other words, perfect cold weather food.

Chicken Stewed in Garlic and Cinnamon

This traditional Greek recipe, known kota kapama, is essentially chicken stewed in garlic and cinnamon and onions, which creates an aroma just as knee-wobblingly enticing as you can imagine. Almost as compelling as the aroma is its rustic taste and the fact that you can toss it together with ease from inexpensive pantry staples. What results is meltingly tender onions and a sauce that boasts a beguilingly smoky sweet sorta thing going on. [Editor’s Note: Well, everything except for Greek cheese, but we have some ideas on what you can substitute for that in the recipe below.] The author, who grew up with this recipe, serves it with rice, orzo, or buttered noodles. Originally published May 1, 2004.Renee Schettler Rossi

Chicken Stewed in Wine and Cinnamon

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels so they don’t spatter in the pan. Mix the cinnamon, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl and rub the chicken pieces on all sides with the mixture. Mince 3 of the garlic cloves and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep, nonreactive skillet over high heat. A 12-inch skillet with sides about 3 inches high should allow you to brown all the chicken pieces at once. (If you don’t have a skillet large enough to cook all the chicken at once, don’t try to cram the chicken in your smaller pan. Instead brown the chicken in 2 batches, using 1 tablespoon of oil for each batch. If you crowd the pieces, the chicken will steam rather than brown.)

Add the chicken to the skillet and brown for 5 to 7 minutes per side, nudging the pieces with a metal spatula from time to time so the chicken doesn’t stick to the skillet. When the pieces are nicely browned on all sides, remove from the pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium-high and add the onions, minced garlic, and cinnamon sticks. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onions have softened and are a rich golden brown. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula or spoon to deglaze, loosening any browned bits, until the wine has evaporated. Then add the water, tomato paste, and remaining 2 whole garlic cloves and return the chicken to the pan. The liquid should cover about three quarters of the chicken. Reduce the heat to low, cover skillet with a lid, and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is tender and thoroughly cooked.

Taste and adjust the sauce with more salt and pepper, if needed. If the sauce seems a little too thick, thin it with a little more water. Remove and discard the cinnamon sticks. Sprinkle the chicken with the grated cheese.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I wasn't sure what the combination of chicken with tomatoes, cinnamon, wine, and garlic would yield, however, I like all those ingredients independently and figured that they would be good together. Thankfully I was right, and this was a really good dish! It came together very easily and made for a nice and easy weeknight meal. Because of the long cooking time, the chicken gets really tender and practically falls off the bone, The recipe calls for a lot of onion, which makes for a nice, thick sauce. After finishing the chicken, I found myself wondering what I could do with the remaining sauce, which I think would be good on just about anything! I was not able to find the Myzithra cheese, but used grated Romano cheese instead. I served the chicken with white rice and a side salad.

Note: I initially used just what was needed of the seasoning mixture for the chicken, which left a good portion of the seasoning remaining. I found that at the end of the cooking time it needed some additional seasoning (specifically salt), so I used some of the remaining seasoning mixture to adjust the dish to taste.

I was a little put off at the thought of cinnamon and chicken, but I thought the flavors in the this dish were delicious—a little smoky and a little sweet. I was also concerned about the amount of onions as I don't like when they overpower a dish. However, I found the onions to be soft and sweet and a lovely accompaniment to the chicken. I served the dish with lightly buttered egg noodles. I couldn't find Myzithra cheese so we used shaved Romano instead. I think this dish could have used a little more kick or spice. Perhaps some dried red pepper adding to the cooking liquid would have helped. After an hour, the chicken was cooked with a lovely thick sauce surrounding it. I added a pinch more salt and few more turns of black pepper.


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  1. I just made this fir the first time and it is fantastic! My wife, who is Greek American, immediately recognized it as Chicken Kapama and was thrilled. Because she (and sort of, I) are doing weight watchers, I made it with 3# of boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2-2” pieces and it came out beautifully. This will be lunches for the week, and now I’m almost looking forward to going to work so I can eat it 🙂
    As always, Leite’s Culinaria delivers the goods!!

    1. It looks like you have some very tasty lunches ahead of you, Brooke! Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know.

  2. David: This recipe is Cat Cora’s version (and a steal almost exactly) from the wonderful Greek cookbook that came out over 30 years ago titled Greek Cooking for the Gods
    by Eva Zane

    Eva Zane’s Greek Cooking for the Gods is an acknowledged culinary classic. Widely acclaimed for its authenticity, it contains over 200 definitive recipes accompanied by delightful culinary lore from the author’s ancestral homeland. Traditional Grecian cuisine is truly mythological in origin and is very much tied to the land and the surrounding sea.

    Goodreads still has go-tos, and you might really enjoy it. I traveled in Greece when I was young and this became my go-to for Greek recipes. Fabulous.

  3. Absolutely delicious! Measurements for spices were spot on. I used beef tenderloin instead of chicken and beef stock to thin out the sauce in the end stages. I can’t wait to make this again!

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