Seared Marinated Breast of Chicken with Tomato and Basil
Petto di Pollo in Padella con Pomodoro e Basilico

serves: 6 servings

This is one of those simple, quick and very flavorful recipes, especially good in the summer months when the tomatoes are wonderful and plentiful. The sauce is easy and full of rich flavor; it would go with quickly sauteed seafood like scallops or cod.


For the chicken breasts
2 pounds chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce
1½ pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cored, peeled and seeded
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
pinch peperoncino
½ cup fresh basil leaves, finely shredded


Cut each chicken breast crosswise on the bias into three more or less even pieces. Place three of the chicken pieces between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound them lightly with a meat mallet or small heavy skillet to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Stir the olive oil, rosemary, sage and garlic in a mixing bowl. Add the chicken pieces, toss to coat well. Season with salt and pepper and toss well again. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the chicken at least 8 hours or overnight. Remove the chicken to room temperature about 30 minutes before cooking.

Just before serving, make the sauce: In a medium-size saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the garlic is light brown, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the tomatoes and their reserved juice. Stir in the peperoncino and salt to taste and adjust the level of heat to simmering. Simmer until the tomatoes are softened and the liquid in the pan is pink and thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in half the basil leaves and keep the sauce warm off the heat.

Heat one or two large, non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron skillets over medium-high heat. Add as many of the chicken slices as will fit in a single layer. Cook until well browned on the underside, about 2 minutes. Turn the chicken slices and cook until the second side is browned and no trace of pink remains in the center, 1 to 2 minutes. (If necessary, keep the first batch of chicken warm on a baking sheet in an oven turned to the lowest setting and cook the remaining chicken in batches.)

Divide the chicken slices among serving plates, overlapping them in a circle pattern in the center of the plate. Spoon the sauce in the center of the circle, drizzling some of the liquid over the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded basil and serve.