Recipe by Rachael Ray
- 4 organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 oz. each)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tsp. (about 1/3 palmful) fennel seeds
- About 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 red field pepper or red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, chopped or grated
- 6 to 8 Italian hot pickled pepper rings in brine, not oil (I like Cento), drained and chopped
- 1 rounded tsp. (about 1/3 palmful) dried oregano or marjoram
- 3 tbsp. sun-dried tomato paste
- 3 to 4 ounces (about a 3- to 4-inch piece) good-quality pepperoni, casing removed and meat coarsely grated or thinly sliced
- About 3/4 cup red vermouth or red wine
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups tomato passata or tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup (a small handful) fresh flat-leaf parsley tops, chopped
- 1 ball (8 oz.) fresh mozzarella, sliced
- A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
- Italian bread with sesame seeds, for dipping
1. Using a knife, remove the tenders (the small pieces of meat that are attached to the breast) from the chicken breasts. Cut the tenders crosswise in half. Arrange the breasts between sheets of parchment. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound the meat to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut each breast crosswise into 3 pieces. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and fennel seeds.
2. Preheat the broiler.
3. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat about 2 tbsp. oil, two turns of the pan, over medium-high. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook until cooked through, 2 to 5 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a platter.
4. Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tbsp. oil, one turn of the pan, to the skillet. Add the field pepper and onion and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, pickled peppers, and oregano. Cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and stir for a minute; stir in the pepperoni. Add the vermouth. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the passata and parsley, then slide the chicken back into the skillet. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce thickens slightly, 1 to 2 minutes more.
5. Top the chicken with the mozzarella. Broil until browned in spots, about 3 minutes. Top with the basil. Serve from the pan with crusty bread for dipping.