Greek Chicken Pitas with Fried Onion Rings

If you haven’t tried marinating meat in Greek yogurt, you must.  It’s similar to the idea of marinating in buttermilk.  The yogurt is tangy and thick and gives a coating to your chicken that tenderizes it and keeps it extremely moist during the cooking process.  By adding in a lot of spices like cumin, oregano, onion, a little paprika and lots of garlic you get this really wonderful, flavorful chicken that will surprise you.

I happen to love a good Gyro but cooking lamb over a spit isn’t always convenient for a quick and easy weeknight meal.  So instead I used all the flavors I love about the Gyro, and decided to go with a grilled chicken pita.  Usually you’d have grilled onions with the grilled peppers and, if you don’t have time to fry onion rings then that’s a great way to go.  But I do recommend at some point trying this quick fried onion ring recipe to go with the pitas.  They are coated in more of that Greek yogurt and then in a mixture of flour and cornmeal to create a really crunchy crust.  I love the contrast of the soft pita, cumin and garlic chicken with the sweet peppers and crunch of a good onion ring.  And the chicken can be marinated for a few hours which makes this a good do ahead for a family meal on a busy night.

  1. Marinate the chicken in all of the ingredients, coating each piece well and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Meanwhile soak wooden skewers in water for the grill or use metal skewers.
  2. Using a paper towel coat the grill with a little canola oil and preheat the grill to medium high. Shake off any excess bits from the marinade but leave the yogurt coating.  Skewer the chicken. 
  3. Cut the peppers into 4 big pieces lengthwise and discard the core. Drizzle with canola oil and salt and pepper.  Drizzle the pita bread with canola oil or olive oil as well.
  4. Cook the chicken and peppers for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until just cooked through, turning as needed.  Remove from grill and cook the pita for only a few seconds just to get the grill marks on them.
  5. For the onion rings add the corn meal, all purpose flour and onion powder to one bowl.  In a second bowl combine the yogurt and milk and whisk until smooth.
  6. Add the canola oil to a small to medium sauce pan over medium high heat.  When hot (tiny bubbles should appear in the oil not big ones) reduce to medium and start browning the onion rings.  They should take between 30 seconds and 2 minutes depending on the heat of the oil.  The temperature of the oil will get lower after the first batch is fried so you may need to increase the heat a little bit again.  You don’t want to fry too high or they just burn instead of turning golden brown.  Remove from oil, place and paper towel and sprinkle with a little salt.
  7. On the plate arrange a little lettuce on each pita, top with the peppers and chicken and then 2-3 onion rings on top.  Serve with the recommended yogurt sauce with hot sauce and lemon juice, if desired.
Chicken

1 lb. chicken, cubed into ½ inch pieces

1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

½ onion, roughly chopped

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

 

Peppers

1 yellow pepper

1 orange pepper

1 red pepper

1 Tablespoon canola oil

Salt & Pepper

 

Onion Rings

½ cup Greek yogurt

½ cup whole milk

½ cup fine or medium grind cornmeal

½ cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 ½ cups canola oil

Salt

 

Pitas

1 package pita bread

Baby lettuce

*Optional – serve with ½ cup Greek yogurt and ½ cup olive oil mixed with a few dashes of Tabasco, juice of 1 lemon , 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 clove diced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste

 Serves 4

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