Recipe: Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs with Blistered Tomatoes & Basil

Weeknight Dinner Recipes from The Kitchn

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Sweet, blistered tomatoes and fresh basil are, without a doubt, the stars of this budget-friendly dinner! But the chicken doesn't hurt either. With just five ingredients and about half an hour, you can be feasting on crispy-skinned, tender chicken piled high with beautiful tomatoes and herbs. This is a simple summer dinner, the best kind.

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Despite having to crank up the oven, this meal is the epitome of the perfect summer dinner. It's simple, straightforward and fresh. It's prime tomato season, the time when these beauties are filling our gardens and flooding the tables at the farmers market.

There's nothing fancy about this dinner. You won't find a long list of ingredients and you won't be spending a long time in the kitchen. Talk about a win-win. What makes it so special and so flavorful is simply good, fresh ingredients — ripe, summer tomatoes and fragrant, fresh basil.

I've been making a few variations of this meal all summer, and this one just might be my favorite. I was ready for a little break from grilling, so I pan-seared bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, then finished cooking them in the oven. The tomatoes are simply cooked on the stovetop with olive oil and garlic, until they blister and pop to perfection.

Go ahead, turn on the oven and take advantage of summer, and its delicious bounty of tomatoes!

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Pan-Seared Crispy Chicken Thighs with Blistered Tomatoes and Basil

Serves 4

2 pounds chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on, about 4 to 6
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Pat the chicken completely dry, and season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large cast iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the chicken to the skillet, skin side down and evenly spaced apart. Cook until the fat is rendered and the skin is crisp and golden brown, about 12 minutes.

Carefully transfer the skillet to the oven and cook, with the chicken remaining skin side down, for 12 minutes. Use tongs to flip the chicken over and cook for another 7 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil.

While the chicken is cooking, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking add the tomatoes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and stir to coat with the oil. Cook, stirring the tomatoes occasionally, until they blister, pop, and soften, about 20 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in most of the basil.

Divide the chicken between plates, top with the blistered tomatoes and garnish with the remaining fresh basil. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

  • You can use cherry tomatoes in place of grape tomatoes. They will make the tomato topping saucier.
  • If you have some serious tomato lovers at your table, I recommend doubling the tomato and basil portion of the recipe.
  • The blistered tomato and basil topping is really versatile and can be used with a variety of other meals. You can use it as a topping for steak, most types of fish, grilled chicken or with a bowl of pasta.

(Image credits: Kelli Dunn)