Wow. This dish was AMAZING. I would describe it as a lighter take on chicken parmesan, but it even brings that classic dish to another level with its more complex flavors.
The first time I made this dish, I served it with roasted red potatoes and roasted broccoli on the side. Realizing that it would have been more perfect with pasta, we “had” to have it again. Absolute perfection served over rigatoni!
This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. She referred to the dish as “Pizza Chicken.” 🙂 I used boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in, increased the garlic, decreased the pancetta, and used ciliegine instead of bocconcini. Fabulous!!
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
- 3 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 15)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces pancetta, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 anchovy fillets
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
- 1 large basil sprig, plus more chopped basil for serving
- 8 ounces bocconcini or ciliegine, halved (or use mozzarella cut into 3/4-inch pieces)
- cooked pasta, such as rigatoni, for serving (tossed with pasta water, olive oil, or butter, as desired)
- Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a large oven-proof skillet, warm oil over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pancetta to a paper-towel-lined plate.
- Working in two batches, add chicken to skillet. Sear, turning only occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil.
- Add garlic, anchovy and red pepper flakes to skillet; fry 1 minute.
- Stir in tomatoes and basil. Cook, breaking up tomatoes with a spatula, until sauce thickens somewhat, about 10 minutes.
- Return chicken to skillet. Transfer skillet to oven and cook, uncovered, until chicken is no longer pink, about 30 minutes.
- Scatter bocconcini, ciliegine, or mozzarella pieces over skillet. Adjust oven temperature to broil. Return skillet to oven and broil until cheese is melted and bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes (watch carefully to see that it does not burn).
- Garnish with pancetta and chopped basil before serving. Serve over pasta, as desired.
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