This version may be slightly more involved than the usual skillet chicken, but the payoff is big – very big – as in tangy, cheesy, bacon-y big. Because instead of water or broth, the liquid in the pan is a quickly made tomato sauce.
And at the very end, fresh bits of mozzarella get melted over everything. Imagine pizza toppings on a pan full of succulent, browned, bone-in chicken, with anchovies in the sauce for depth and a crunchy pancetta garnish.
This is the kind of dish that welcomes variations. Add olives or capers instead of anchovies, substitute onion for garlic, swap rosemary for basil, or use all dark- or all white-meat pieces instead of a whole bird.
Skillet Chicken With Tomatoes, Pancetta and Mozzarella
Time: 45 minutes; yield: 4 servings
3 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (or use a 3 1/2 pound chicken cut into 8 pieces)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
5 ounces pancetta, diced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 anchovy fillets
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
1 large basil sprig, plus more chopped basil for serving
8 ounces bocconcini, halved (or use mozzarella cut into 3/4-inch pieces)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Pat chicken dry and 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.
Add chicken to skillet. Sear, turning only occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. 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 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.