Bill Doukas says it’s OK to use chicken parts that have already been cut up by the grocery store, but that “would not be considered traditional for this Mediterranean dish.” When he makes the dish, he includes the back of the chicken, because the bones, skin and dark meat yield a tasty chicken stock. The back needn’t end up on the final platter, he said.

If you prefer a stronger tomato flavor, as Doukas’ paternal grandmother did, add 6 ounces more tomato paste (for a total of 12 ounces). Doukas sometimes “splits the difference” and adds 1 1/2 cans, or 9 ounces, tomato paste.

Serves 4 to 8

1 large whole chicken, about 5 pounds
1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more if needed
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 ounces tomato paste
4 teaspoons chicken bouillon
4 cups long-grain rice

Using a sharp knife cut the chicken into pieces: First cut off the wings, legs and thighs. Next, separate the back from the breasts.

Split the breasts lengthwise and cut them transversely for smaller pieces. Dry all the pieces.

Chop the onion into pieces, about 3/8 inch by 3/8 inch.

Pour the olive oil into a large skillet. When the oil is hot, add the onions and chicken parts, skin side down. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the exposed side of the chicken. When the cooked side has turned golden brown, about 10 minutes, flip the chicken and season the second side with salt and pepper. Saute 3 to 4 minutes on the second side. Add more olive oil if necessary to assure proper sautéing. You may need to brown the chicken in batches, or in 2 pans, to avoid overcrowding, thus steaming, the chicken.

While you are browning the chicken, add 14 cups of water to a large Dutch oven or kettle. Thoroughly whisk in the tomato paste and the bouillon and bring the liquid to a boil. You want the stock to come to a boil just about the time the chicken parts are fully browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken parts directly from the sauté pan to the Dutch oven. Transfer the now well-cooked onions and cooked bits from the base of the pan to the stock, as well. (If you pour a little of the stock into the large skillet and scrap the bottom vigorously with a spoon, then return the stock to the Dutch oven, you will get all the bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet, which carry much of the flavor.)

Reduce the boiling tomato stock to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, covered. Using tongs, remove the chicken pieces and place them in a ceramic dish or bowl, covering with foil to keep the chicken warm. You will need only 6 to 7 cups of the stock to cook the rice. Save the remainder for another use or add more rice in a roughly 2 parts liquid to 1 part rice ratio if you like.

Return the stock to a boil, stir in the rice, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot. The rice should be done after about 15 minutes.

Serve the rice with the chicken.