Easy Baked Chicken w/ Tomatoes & Pancetta

Is it dramatic to say this is one of the best summer dishes I’ve ever made?

Because this is really, truly!, one of the best summer dishes I’ve ever made.

8 ingredients, fresh herbs, 30 minutes. If that doesn’t reel you in, what will!?

Since tomatoes are just about to hit their peak, I’m going to be posting tomato recipes like CRAZY over the next few weeks. It might annoy you, it might thrill you, it could potentially exhaust you. But whatever your reaction may be — DEAL. It’s happening, you can’t stop me, and I swear you’re secretly going to be happy I did it.

I know a lot of people spend the entire year waiting for pumpkin everything, but for me, my wait is for tomatoes. Because when August 1st hits, I am KNEE DEEP in everything tomato. Whether it’s crostini, galettes, pastas, pies, or more crostini (hell yes!) tomato everything is my end-of-summer jam. So consider this baked chicken w/ tomatoes & pancetta my newest tomato obsession, and I’m confident it’s going to become yours, too.

The heart of this dish is tomatoes, of course. But the true magic is not just the perfectly ripe beefsteak tomatoes. It’s how the tomatoes SING when combined with shallots, garlic, fresh herbs, and pancetta! This simple dish is a literal explosion of herbaceous, sweet, savory flavor, every bite is a new, wondrous sensation.

You start by searing amply seasoned chicken breasts over a high flame until browned, about 1 minute per side. I prefer thin sliced chicken breasts for this recipe because it achieves the ideal chicken-to-tomato ratio, so follow my lead and buy those specifically. Once the chicken breasts are seared transfer them to a greased baking dish, then sauté shallots, garlic, and pancetta in more olive oil. The aroma here is HEAVEN, so if you sneak a tiny spoonful or two, I won’t shade you. When everything is painfully fragrant, deglaze the pan with cold white wine, then add the diced tomatoes. Simmer until the smell starts to kill you again, then pour over your chicken breasts!

Pop in the oven, bake for 15 – 20 minutes, and dinner is served.

A combination of basil, oregano, and thyme — all culled from my urban garden! — enhance this dish perfectly. Not only does this trio amplify the tomatoes, it expertly compliments the pancetta while lending needed taste to the chicken, too. There’s only 2 oz of pancetta here, so you can enjoy the mega salty, bacon-y flavor without racking yourself with guilt. And the chicken? SO tender. Smothered under an umbrella of flavor, you barely need a fork to slice into them.

This is a wonderful, low-maintenance dish primed for entertaining, particularly when you need a break from the grill. Serve alongside a crisp arugula salad, spaghetti tossed in olive oil and lemon, or a classic caprese!

Just don’t forget a sprinkle of sharp cheese when plating. xo

Easy Baked Chicken w/ Tomatoes & Pancetta

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb bonesless skinless chicken breasts, thin sliced
  • a few pinches of salt & pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsps oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsps basil
  • 1 1/2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced thin
  • 2 oz cubed pancetta
  • 1 1/2 tsps crushed or minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup cold, dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)
  • 4 beefsteak tomatoes, diced
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • grated sharp cheese for serving
  • olive oil spray to grease

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a medium-sized baking dish with olive oil spray.
  2. On a cutting board amply season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, basil, and oregano on all sides. Next, heat a skillet over a high flame, then coat the bottom with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sear the chicken breasts on either side until brown, about 1 minute per side, then transfer to the greased baking dish.
  3. Reduce flame to medium-high, then add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Saute the shallots, pancetta, and garlic until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Next pour in the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom as you do to incorporate any brown bits of flavor. Simmer until the wine is almost completely cooked off, then lastly stir in the diced tomatoes and thyme. Season with additional salt & pepper if needed, then cook for 5 minutes.
  4. When ready, pour the tomato and pancetta mixture over the chicken, then bake, uncovered, on oven middle rack for 15 – 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately, topping with grated sharp cheese when plating.
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