Lemons Lemons are one of my favorite flavor enhancers but you need to be careful of the white pith. If you cook the pith, it turns very bitter. Cooking the rind or pulp is fine but never use the pith or seeds. I remember discovering this disturbing fact cooking chicken piccata for the first time. I thought I could enhance the flavor by cooking lemon slices in the sauce but instead I got a bitter taste I couldn't correct with sugar.
My Favorite Pan My favorite pan is a twenty dollar cast iron pan. I remember vividly how my step-father coveted his iron pan and warned us about not using soap to clean it. Seasoned and maintained properly, an iron pan can last forever. It is better than any non stick pan and far more durable. It's thick base holds heat better than any pan in my arsenal and prevents food from burning by dispersing the heat.
One day I was hungry for lunch and had some leftover chicken breasts. Next thing I saw in the fridge was calamata olives. So I thought, why not make a chicken salad sandwich with Greek flavors?!? I pulled out pepperoncinis next. My wife loves them so we always have a couple bottles on hand. I also found some feta cheese I hadn't completely used on another recipe. A little mayonnaise, some diced red onion and a pinch of oregano and I had myself a surprise winner.
Chicken breasts are hard to cook evenly due to their irregular size. They are a little rounded and thicker at the large end. Pounding the breast out just a little with a Meat Mallet really helps get a juicy chicken breast with no surprise pink in the middle. The picture above shows the before and after results of some light pounding. The breast is now even across the top so the center gets cooked sooner. Thirty seconds of work for a juicier chicken breast seems like a good trade off.
Season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder while an Iron Grill Pan is heating up on medium high. Grill the meat for approximately five minutes per side, rotating halfway through on each side to get cross hatch grill marks. The chicken is done when it is firm to the touch. When I think it is done, I like to turn off the heat and let the meat cook a little longer with residual heat from the pan.
Let the meat cool for ten minutes on a cutting board before dicing it. The size of your chicken chunks depends on your personality. I like large chunks usually so I get a great taste of meat in every bite. Small chunks might be your calling if you like each piece of meat to be surrounded by mayo and other bits of goodness.
Dice the olives, onion and pepperoncinis and mix all the ingredients together with just enough mayonnaise to cover the chicken lightly. Rather than smother the mixture with tons of mayonnaise, I prefer to spread some on each side of the bread if I am serving a mayo lover. But to each his own. Feel free to add as much a mayonnaise as you so desire :)
Serve your Greek chicken salad on any bread you like, even a bagel. Add some salty chips and something sour like a pickle or pepperoncini and you have a tasty lunch that didn't take long to prepare!