Fix this simple chicken dish for dinner tonight

Basque-style chicken
Basque-style chicken.
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

Chicken is one of the great go-to staples when it comes to weeknight dinners. It’s easy to find, works well with a variety of flavors and lends itself to an almost endless assortment of preparations. But best of all? You can put a great chicken dinner on the table quickly. 

Pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts until thin (this helps the breasts cook evenly — and quickly). Pan fry the breasts for just a few minutes until done, then, in the same pan you cooked the chicken, fix a quick Basque-style sauce. Olives, tomatoes, herbs and rich pancetta come together in a quick and flavorful sauce. Hungry yet? It’s ready in 35 minutes.


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Total time: 35 minutes | Serves 2

Note: From former Test Kitchen director Donna Deane. Espelette pepper is available at specialty food stores. You can substitute canned San Marzano tomatoes for fresh tomatoes.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 7 ounces each

1/2 teaspoon salt


Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4 -inch pieces

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 cup dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio

1/2 cup chicken broth


1/8 teaspoon Espelette pepper

3 sprigs thyme

1/2 cup diced tomato, cut into 3/4 -inch dice

1/4 cup nicoise olives

1. Place each chicken breast between two large pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet or heavy skillet, pound each breast until it is uniformly about one-fourth-inch thick. Season each piece with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Place each breast on top of a large piece of plastic wrap or wax paper.

2. In a large skillet, heat the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the chicken, one piece at a time, and saute until golden brown, about 2 1/2 minutes on the first side and 30 seconds on the other. Remove the chicken to a plate. Set aside in a warm place.

3. Drain the excess fat from the pan and add the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until browned, about 2 minutes. Add the shallot and saute for 1 minute, until tender, then add the garlic and saute just until aromatic, a few seconds, being careful not to brown. Add the wine, stirring to scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan.

4. Stir in the chicken broth, the Espelette pepper, thyme and tomatoes. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes so that the flavors develop. Stir in the olives.


5. Add the chicken back to the pan, spooning the sauce over it. Cook for 1 minute, then remove the chicken to a plate. Spoon the sauce evenly over each piece, and serve immediately.

Each serving: 387 calories; 28 grams protein; 21 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 21 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 93 mg. cholesterol; 860 mg. sodium.

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