If you've seen my recent posts, you can tell that I've been guilty of indulging in some less healthy dishes. Watching the Food Network late at night can do that to you. Well, I'm making a change this week and presenting meals that are easier on the waistline, specifically, my waistline. In an effort to lower the number on the scale, I am preparing a healthy yet flavorful Moroccan chicken pita sandwich. Braised chicken is tossed with olives, roasted peppers, and tomatoes and stuffed in warm pita bread to make one flavorful and satisfying meal.
Moroccan Chicken Pita Sandwich
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 chicken drumsticks
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup sliced Kalamata olives
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 2 roma tomatoes diced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 4 pita bread
- hummus optional
- Combine seasonings for the marinade (cayenne-olive oil) in a medium bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat evenly. Marinate for at least two hours or overnight.
- Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in deep saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear on all sides. Remove and set aside.
- Add the chicken stock and deglaze the pan, scraping the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken back to the pan along with ½ lemon and ¼ cup olives. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot, and reduce heat to medium-low. Continue to cook until the chicken is tender about 20-25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, roast the bell pepper directly on the stove top until the skin has blackened. Transfer to a heat-safe bowl and cover. Let sit for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the skin, discarding the stem and seeds. Chop the pepper.
- Remove chicken from heat. Shred the meat, discarding the bones. Toss together with the olives, roasted bell pepper, tomatoes, cilantro. Squeeze the halved lemon and 2 tablespoon of the braising liquid. Season with salt and pepper.
- Toast the pita bread. Split open and stuff with the chicken mixture. Serve with hummus if desired.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Although this recipe uses chicken drumsticks, feel free to substitute with chicken breast for an even healthier meal. I personally prefer dark meat because it's much more tender and juicy. Dark meat is more forgiving than light, especially when it comes to long cooking periods.
When preparing the chicken, all the flavor comes from the olives, lemon, and the chicken itself. You can already see the broth being flavored from the fond as soon as it is added to the pot. The fond refers to the browned bits and caramelized drippings from the chicken that was seared in the previous step.
Another reason I prefer to use chicken legs instead of chicken breast is the bone. The bone imparts more flavor to the broth, which will later become a sauce and binder for the filling.
A short while later and the chicken is falling off the bone.
Toss together with the tomatoes, olives, roasted peppers, lemon juice, and broth. Stuff in warm pita bread and you have your Moroccan chicken pita sandwich. The fresh, bright tomatoes with the briny olives and juicy chicken is a wonderful combination. Enjoy with hummus or even tzatziki for extra oomph. Lunch is served!
For more sandwich inspiration check out this porchetta sandwich with salsa verde!