Give me an hour and I’ll give you what will be your favorite dinner of the week. This “pizza chicken” has all the big pizza flavors you are use to—melty mozzarella, sweet tomatoes, then take that and add some browned chicken to it.
Sure there’s a little more work involved, but chalk that up to well-worth-it flavor building. And if there’s anyone I’m going to freely give up an hour of time to, it’s Melissa Clark. She is one of my and Naomi’s favorite cookbook authors. This Pizza Chicken recipe is from her Dinner cookbook.
It’s also my most dog-eared cookbook as of late. All the recipes are doable and without any pretension. For this recipe I stayed pretty true to it, with just a few changes: (1) I used all bone-in breast instead of thighs, because of this I added the browned chicken to a casserole pan so it wouldn’t get crowded in my 10-inch pan while it was roasting in the oven and (2) I added an extra cup of diced tomatoes because my kids like all that stew-y tomato sauce.
And because I called this Pizza Chicken, my kids wanted to know where the carbs were –not seen in the photographs–the kid’s buttered slice of white bread. Melissa Clark suggests a leafy green salad to accompany this meal. I made one and the only person that had it was Naomi. I joined the boys with bread because it’s much better at mopping up all the saucy goodness.
Yield: Serves 4-5
5 bone-in chicken breast
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
5 ounces pancetta, diced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 oil-packed anchovy fillets
1 tablespoons capers, drained
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
4 1/2 cups diced rip tomatoes
1 large sprig fresh basil, plus chopped basil leaves for serving
8 ounces bocconcini, halved
Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.
Heat 10-inch skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Let the oil heat up, add the pancetta then cook and stir until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and transfer cooked pancetta to a paper-towel-lined plate.
Add the chicken to the skillet. Searing, turning the pieces occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer them the chicken to an oven-safe casserole plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil int the skillet.
Add the garlic, anchovies, capers and chile flakes to the skillet, and the saute for 1 minute. Add in all the tomatoes , the basil sprig, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook and break up the tomatoes with a spatula, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Transfer the casserole pan to the oven and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 30 minutes. Remove the casserole pan from the oven and scatter the bocconcini over the chicken.
Turn on the broiler, place the skillet under the heat source, and brown until the cheese is bubbling, about 1 to 3 minutes.
Garnish the chicken with the pancetta and basil before serving.