This exceptional one-dish chicken is adapted (based on my tastes and tinkering!) from Melissa Clark's cookbook (Dinner: Changing the Game). Her recipes are all so thoughtfully designed to work beautifully for dinner: simple, flavorful, easy-to-vary, and crowd-pleasing. She describes it in her book as tasting like chicken Parmesan without the richness, and that's exactly right. It hits all the cheesy, warm, comforting high notes without the feeling of "let me fall asleep right after"-- I've adapted it to feed just 2 people, but you can easily double it: just use 3 1/2 pounds of bone-in chicken. The rest of the recipe can stay as is unless you want more sauce, then increase the other amounts too. —Posie (Harwood) Brien
strips thick-cut bacon (or pancetta), cut in pieces
cloves garlic, thinly sliced
red chile flakes (use more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
canned whole plum tomatoes
fresh cherry tomatoes
dried oregano (optional)
chopped fresh basil, plus 1 large sprig of basil
fresh mozzarella cheese
In This Recipe
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Add the chopped bacon (or pancetta) to a large oven-proof skillet (I used a 10" for a two-person meal) and cook over medium-high heat until crisp and golden brown. Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate.
If the pan is a little dry, add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Add the chicken thighs to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, for about 10 minutes -- they should be well-browned on all sides but not cooked through. Transfer the chicken thighs to the plate with the bacon. (Don't drain the pan at any point!)
Add the garlic, capers, and chile flakes to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, the large sprig of basil, and the oregano, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens a bit. It helps to smash the tomatoes a bit with the back of a spatula or spoon as they cook.
Add the bacon and chicken thighs back to the pan, and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
Remove the skillet from the oven. Turn the broiler on high. Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and sprinkle them over the top of the skillet. Place the skillet under the broiler for about 2 minutes -- watch carefully! Take it out as soon as the cheese bubbles and browns.
Sprinkle the chopped fresh basil over the skillet. Serve over baby spinach or other greens.