So far tonight I've listened three times to "Here at the Right Time" by Josh Ritter, and I swear my knees get a little weak when he sings: my love for you was always sure / the bucket was broken / but the water was pure.
If you like his music, I also get stuck some days on "Homecoming" and "Girl in the War". And if you need to, say, run stair repeats or get dressed to go out at night (I KNOW THOSE ARE VERY DIFFERENT THINGS but oddly they benefit from the same sort of tunes), try "Getting Ready to Get Down".
And so far this week I've made slap-dash, not-worth-discussing-here-but-still-delicious meals (warm beef Bolognese sauce spooned over a cold salad I'm looking at you), and also I've ordered scrambled egg dosas (because yes, breakfast for dinner is good and yes, in NYC you can get eggs in your dosa and it's top-notch), and also I did make one truly exceptional recipe that you should know about.
It comes from Melissa Clark's new cookbook, Dinner, and I really haven't ever felt so inspired by a cookbook that didn't involve a lot of chocolate cake. She writes a food column for the New York Times, so you know she's well-versed in dealing with cooks of all abilities and that she's adept at writing recipes that anticipate any weird question you could think of -- she writes for a home cook but she doesn't oversimplify: the recipes all sound wildly flavorful and interesting and if I had enough Post-Its I'd mark every page. But I have none so I'm just going to cook my way through the book this summer and tell you all about it, cool?
Great. Good. Glad we're all game for this experiment. Let's start with pizza chicken!
I like pizza. I like chicken. This recipe already has me convinced by title alone. Melissa has a version on the NYT website and one in her book so I made a bit of a mash-up of both. She calls it a "gooey, lovable meal that’s somewhat reminiscent of chicken Parmesan" -- and guys, this is actually so spot on. When the man of the house was about four mouthfuls in, he turned to me and says (unprompted! Before I told him she said the same thing! I swear.): "This tastes like chicken Parm! But lighter and I don't want to sleep after I eat it."
So, there you have it. A real-life recipe review from a man who very rarely gives critical feedback on food unless he a: hates something or b: is coaxed and cajoled by me into giving an opinion.
This version of the recipe is perfect for 2 people, but it's simple to double to feed a group of 4. You could also very easily make it even bigger and bake it all in a 9" x 13" pan (just do the initial steps in a skillet or saucepan and then transfer the browned chicken/sauce/bacon to the baking pan).
Skillet Pizza Chicken
Adapted from Melissa Clark
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 strip thick-cut bacon (or pancetta)
1 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon capers, drained well
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
One 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes (you can also use one 14-ounce can and one pint of fresh cherry tomatoes -- any combo of fresh and canned is fine! It'll just make it more or less saucy)
1 large sprig fresh basil, plus 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil for serving
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In a large oven-proof skillet (I used a 10" for a two-person meal), heat the olive oil.
Add the bacon and cook until crisp and golden brown. Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate.
Add the chicken thighs to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, for about 10 minutes -- they should be browned on all sides but not cooked through.
Transfer the chicken thighs to the plate with the bacon. (Don't drain the pan at any point!)
Add the garlic, capers, and chile flakes to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes and basil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens a bit.
Add the bacon and chicken thighs back to the pan, and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
Turn the broiler on high. Remove the skillet from the oven. Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and sprinkle them over the top of the skillet. Place the skillet under the broiler for about 2 minutes -- watch carefully! Take it out as soon as the cheese bubbles and browns.
Sprinkle the chopped fresh basil over the skillet. Serve over baby spinach or other greens.