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As a child I used to hate pizza. I think it was the melting browned cheese that put me off and I was a wilful child who would cling to likes and dislikes with stubbornness. I didn’t start loving pizza until much later, as an adult, and even then only when I started making my own.
Chicken however has been a firm favourite since childhood, I think I was practically raised on my mum’s roast chicken with lemony potatoes! Both chicken and pizza are big hits with my children – phew! – and we have them regularly for dinner.
The inspiration for this skillet pizza chicken with pepperoni, mozzarella and spicy tomatoes came from Dinner* by Melissa Clark, which is a fabulous book if you ever feel bored by same-old dinners day in and day out. Any recipe that uses bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls) goes high on my must-make list. You can use them on actual pizza as I have done here – if fact this recipe is pretty close to my skillet pizza one minus the dough.
Speaking of skillets, I am fairly obsessed with my Staub* one! This is partly because it is so photogenic in food photos 😉 but it also is amazing to cook in from stove, to oven, to table. It’s particularly great for frying steaks in, but also versatile enough for sweet bakes as well.
This recipe uses free-range chicken legs which I don’t often use in my recipes. But you really do have to use them (or chicken thighs) in this dish, as chicken breast would probably end up quite tough and not as tasty.
Start by frying the pepperoni until crisp. Set aside and sear the chicken on both sides – this is the important bit for maximum yumminess. Once the chicken is browned, fry the onions until soft, stir in the tomatoes and capers and then add the chicken back in.
Pop in the oven to cook (see that’s why a skillet is so great) and then add the cheese at the last minute, blasting it under the grill (broiler) until it melts. Garnish with the pepperoni and some fresh basil and then dig in!
If you wanted to add another layer to the skillet pizza chicken with pepperoni, mozzarella and spicy tomatoes, cook some pizza dough brushed with olive oil and lots of garlic to serve on the side. It is perfect for mopping up the delicious juices! You can also serve crusty bread or garlic bread instead. A dish this rich goes well with a salad or some green vegetables, but if you are REALLY hungry you could serve it with pasta or rice.
Skillet pizza chicken
- 12 slices spicy pepperoni diced
- 4 large skin-on chicken legs
- Or you can use 6 skin-on chicken thighs
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- Salt and pepper to season
- Splash sherry red wine, or water to deglaze skillet
- 1 small red onion finely diced
- 200 g | 7oz cherry tomatoes halved
- 1-2 tbsp capers optional
- 8 balls of bocconcini mini mozzarella balls
- 10 fresh basil leaves roughly torn
- Olive oil as needed
- pinch red chilli flakes to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).
- Remove any excess skin and fat from the chicken and pat dry.
- Mix the olive oil and minced garlic together and brush over the chicken pieces. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Add a tiny splash of oil in a 10in large skillet and pan fry the pepperoni over medium heat until it is crisp.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pepperoni to a towel paper lined plate.
- Sear the chicken in the skillet until well browned on both sides - this can take up to 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a large plate and pour most of the oil out of the skillet.
- Heat the skillet again and add a splash of sherry, wine or water to deglaze the pan, scraping any browned sticky bits with a wooden spoon (they add a lot of flavour).
- Add the onions a little olive oil and cook over medium-low heat until onion has softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and capers and cook for another 5 minutes, until they start breaking up and releasing some of their juices.
- Nestle the chicken among the tomatoes and transfer to the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, uncovered.
- Scatter the bocconcini over the chicken and season with salt and pepper.
- Turn on the grill (broiler) and place the skillet near the top to allow the cheese to melt. It only needs a couple of minutes so keep an eye on it!
- Add the basil leaves, scatter with chilli flakes and crisp pepperoni and serve with a green salad.