Photo: Daniel Agee; Food Styling: Karen Rankin; Prop Styling: Kashara Johnson
Active Time
25 Mins
Total Time
45 Mins
Yield
Serves 4 (serving size: 1 chicken breast, 1 cup pasta)

Building incredible flavor in a single skillet is one of the smart tricks pro cooks use to get food on the table fast. That said, you’ll actually need 2 skillets—a 12-inch nonstick for cooking and a 10-inch cast-iron for weight—to make this fabulous chicken-under-a-brick inspired dinner. The heavy cast-iron acts as your “brick,” which is essential to getting glorious crispy skin and helps speed up the cooking. You could also use a large brick or tile wrapped in aluminum foil for the same effect. The result is super juicy chicken, with ridiculously crisp skin, ready in a fraction of the time it would typically take to cook whole chicken breasts on the stovetop. And once you throw marinara saucy and melty mozzarella into the mix… well, you’ve got a weeknight recipe the family is going to beg for again and again. Serve the completed saucy-cheesy chicken over pasta or on toasted hoagie rolls.  

How to Make It

Step 1

Wrap a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in aluminum foil, covering entire base of skillet. Set aside.

Step 2

Pat chicken dry with paper towels, and place on a work surface. Carefully run a sharp knife along the bones, and pull the meat away from bones. Discard bones. (Do not remove skin on breast meat.) Season both sides of each breast evenly with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high. Place chicken, skin side down, in skillet. Place prepared cast-iron skillet, bottom side down, on chicken. Cook until skin side is golden brown and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes, checking after 8 minutes. Turn chicken breasts, and place cast-iron skillet, bottom side down, on chicken. Cook until done, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from skillet, reserving drippings in skillet, and cover chicken to keep warm.

Step 3

Add onion and garlic to drippings in nonstick skillet. Cook over medium, stirring often, until onions are softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add marinara sauce, and cook, stirring often, until sauce thickens slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully nestle chicken breasts, skin side up, in sauce in a single layer. (Make sure chicken skin stays out of the sauce to ensure skin stays crispy.) Arrange mozzarella slices over sauce. (Mozzarella may slightly overlap chicken breasts.) Cover and cook until cheese melts, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with basil. Serve chicken, cheese, and sauce over pasta.

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