This is one of my favorite methods for cooking chicken breasts: quick, simple, and endlessly versatile. Do not worry one iota if you have no smoked paprika (or oregano) in your pantry; try dried basil, Italian seasoning, or a pinch of cayenne pepper. It’s hard to go wrong, so have fun experimenting. Be sure to pat the chicken dry with paper towel before you season and cook them; this simple step is essential for getting a gorgeous, golden-brown sear on the chicken.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/2 lb. total)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
1/2 cup red wine
1 14-1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes (preferably “petite-cut”), with their juices
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (not hot)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Grated zest of 1 medium orange
Chicken: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper (about 1 tsp. of each total).
Heat a 12-inch heavy-based ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the oil, swirling to coat pan. Add chicken, spacing evenly in pan, and then evenly space the chicken in the pan. Cook, without touching, for 2 minutes. Using tongs or a fork, lift a corner of the chicken, to check that it’s well-browned (If it sticks or isn’t well browned, cook for 1-2 minutes more). Turn chicken over; cook 1minute, then transfer skillet to the oven.
Roast 5-8 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Using potholders, carefully remove the pan from the oven, transfer the chicken to a large plate and tent with foil.
Sauce: Pour off any excess fat from the skillet. Return the pan to high heat and add the red wine. Cook, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to release any browned bits, until the wine is reduced to a glaze. Add the tomatoes with their juices; cook until the juices reduce to a saucy consistency, about 3 min. Stir in the Parmesan, smoked paprika, and oregano; season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately spooned over the sear-roasted chicken. Makes 4 servings.