This is such a tasty recipe and a great one if you have a lot of ripe tomatoes on your hands. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen that often in the UK and definitely not at this time of year! So unless you have a really good crop you need to tomato it up a fair bit with some passata.
Butterflying the chicken means it cooks easily and (if you do it right, unlike me), your chicken goes in the shape of a heart. D’aww.
You do need fresh basil, the dried stuff won’t do this sauce justice. Simply pick up a basil plant from your local supermarket – though I always seem to end up killing them by accident. I’m just not green fingered ☹
Sweet basil & tomato chicken
- 2 medium chicken breasts
- 200g / ¾ of a punnet baby plum tomatoes
- 2 banana shallots
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 100ml tomato passata
- 3-4 sundried tomatoes
- 2 tsp demerara sugar
- 1 tsp bouillon powder
- Really big handful of fresh basil
- Black pepper, to taste
Butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting horizontally through the thickest part and then opening like a book. I ALWAYS get this wrong and they come out in weird shapes, but the aim of the game is just to get a flat piece of meat that is one thickness all the way through. Beat them up with a rolling pin inside a plastic bag if you want them even thinner still.
Take a large frying pan and heat up some of the oil from the sundried tomatoes. This will give everything a nice savoury flavour. Once the oil is getting hot add the chicken breasts and cook for maybe 6-7 minutes on each side, on a gentle heat. You want to brown them and make sure they are cooked all the way through.
While they’re cooking, chop up the shallots and garlic finely, and chop the tomatoes into small pieces – in half if you’re using cherry tomatoes or into ½ inch chunks if using full sizes. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the pan and pop to one side. In the same pan, add a bit more oil if you need to and soften down the shallots, then the garlic, then add the tomatoes.
Let the tomatoes cook down for 4-5 mins or so and then add in the passata plus a splash of red wine (optional) and a knob of butter (optional). Throw in the bouillon, some black pepper, the balsamic and the demerara for sweetness.
Finally add the chicken back to the sauce and then stir in your fresh basil leaves. Let cook down for another 3-4 minutes. Serve with spaghetti or rice!