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Recipe: Grilled Chicken Muffulettas


Maki Strunc

Although it doesn’t seem possible, the Fourth of July holiday is coming up shortly! And while there will no doubt be many burgers, hot dogs, and brats sizzling on grills, a chicken option is always a popular idea for the barbecue party—or any day. Plus, according to Google, chicken is high on the list of food searches, coming in at number two only after pizza—and are those people just looking for places to order it? So I know you’re out there looking for ideas, too.

Chicken is my favorite go-to meat and there’s always a question of looking for different ways to prepare it. Here, chef and cookbook author Rozanne Gold jazzes up chicken a la muffuletta, New Orleans’ most famous sandwich. The muffuletta sandwich is distinguished by a garlicky olive salad that is most commonly heaped on cold cuts but is also great on pork chops, steak, and grilled chicken, such as in this recipe (which appeared in Real Food).

While Mother Nature will hopefully cooperate with outdoor grilling, if she knows what’s good for her, these chicken breasts can also be cooked in a grill pan atop your stove or broiled in the oven if she decides to dampen the mood. Plus, as an option for serving, you could skip the bun, if you’d like, and just serve topped with the savory olive salad. Plan ahead: It’s recommended to marinate the chicken for 12 to 24 hours. But, the do-ahead prep makes it even easier to enjoy your own party.

Grilled Chicken Muffulettas

Serves 8

Olive Salad:
3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small red bell pepper, cut into large pieces
1 clove garlic
½ c. parsley leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 anchovy fillets
1 tbsp. capers
1½ c. pimiento-stuffed olives
½ c. olive oil
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

8 5-oz. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
½ c. olive oil
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. chipotle chile powder
2 tsp. salt

8 kaiser rolls
8 leaf lettuce leaves

Place celery, carrots, peppers, garlic, parsley, oregano, anchovies, and capers in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times. Add olives and pulse several times again until you have a very chunky mixture. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Stir in olive oil and vinegar. Cover and refrigerate. (Can be made 1 day ahead.)

Meanwhile, put chicken breasts in a large bowl. Add olive oil, paprika, chile powder, and salt. Toss well. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

If using barbecue: Prepare grill for cooking over high heat. Remove chicken from marinade. Grill chicken for about 2 minutes on each side, moving the chicken breasts around so they’re not scorched by flames.

If using grill pan: Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and grill for 3 minutes on each side until chicken is done (do not overcook as you want the chicken to be moist). You will need to do this in several batches. Keep chicken warm by covering with foil.

If using broiler: Preheat broiler. Remove chicken from marinade and place on rimmed baking sheet. Broil several inches away from broiler for 2 minutes on each side, or until chicken is cooked through, being careful not to overcook.

To assemble muffulettas: Cut kaiser rolls in half. Toast them lightly in toaster oven or place them cut side down on barbecue. Put a piece of lettuce on bottom half of roll. Top with warm chicken breast. Spoon olive salad on top and cover with other half of roll.

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