Blackened chicken pitas
The magic of this recipe arises from the blending of flavors, the spiciness of the seasonings and the tartness of the yogurt sauce. I like to garnish the servings with large bunches of seedless red grapes or fresh orange wedges.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
? teaspoon salt
To complete the recipe
½ cup plain yogurt
½ teaspoon sugar
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 4 ounces each)
Two 6-inch pita breads (white or whole wheat), each sliced in half vertically
8 leaves soft leaf lettuce, such as Bibb, Boston, green leaf, or red leaf
Stir together the seasoning mixture in a small bowl.
Pour the yogurt into a separate small bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of the seasoning mixture and the sugar; stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Place the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or place in a plastic bag; flatten them to a ½-inch uniform thickness. Spread the seasoning mixture on both sides of each chicken breast.
Heat a stovetop grill pan over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and arrange the chicken on the grill; cook for about 4 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook for 4 more minutes, or until it is well browned (and somewhat blackened) and cooked through.
Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Spread about 1 tablespoon of the seasoned yogurt sauce on the top of each chicken breast. Slice the chicken breasts in half.
For each sandwich, open 2 pita bread pockets; line each with lettuce leaves. Slip in the chicken breast halves. Drizzle each sandwich with about 1 more tablespoon of the yogurt mixture.
The yogurt sauce may be made in several hours in advance; cover and refrigerate. The chicken breasts can be spread with the seasoning mixture, placed in a single layer on a plate, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated for several hours before cooking. If you prefer, the chicken can be cooked up to 1 day in advance and served chilled. Assemble the pita sandwiches just before serving.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.