The Six-Kid Crowdpleaser

October 4th, 2010 · 48 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Quick

A few weeks ago my friend Vanessa invited my family to her house for dinner. She and her husband cooked the most delicious meal — not to mention presented a perfect starter plate (prosciutto-wrapped bocconcini and halved fresh figs) that I’ve already stolen and passed off as mine in my own house. Twice. But the real highlight of the evening was watching my kids (and four others) devour her creamy-tomatoey baked chicken before they headed to the basement for a Scooby Doo screening. Because my kids had never eaten it before, I was all ready to give them the usual song-and-dance – It’s like Chicken Parm, but the cheese is in the sauce instead of on top of the chicken! But none was needed. They ate every last bite and I found myself sneaking a spoonful of what remained in the pot when Vanessa was in the other room setting the table for the “grown-up” meal. My favorite thing about the recipe, which of course I made Vanessa email me the next day, was that it reads like a tweet. It is that simple. It requires only six basic ingredients and (after some technique tweaking) only one pot. You’re welcome.

Baked Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce

In an ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven (sorry photo does not show either), brown 3 to 4 large boneless chicken breasts over high heat in olive oil, about 2 minutes a side. Remove breasts from pan. (They do not have to be cooked through.) Turn down heat to medium-low and add one onion (finely chopped) and 2 cloves garlic (minced). After about 2 minutes, stir in one 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 3-4 tablespoons mascarpone and a handful of roughly chopped basil. Add chicken back to pan, immersing them in sauce. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.

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48 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Susan // Oct 5, 2010 at 12:03 am

    It looks like something my two tomato sauce eating kids would like. (Alas, I have one that won’t touch any kind of cooked tomato – including ketchup – but will eat raw tomatoes!) I can’t tell from the photo whether the chicken is a boneless skinless breast or a bone-in breast. Can you clarify? Thanks!

  • 2 MommyLisa // Oct 5, 2010 at 12:11 am


  • 3 Jenny // Oct 5, 2010 at 12:23 am

    Susan – Boneless! I fixed it in recipe. Thanks for pointing that out. -Jenny

  • 4 Melissa // Oct 5, 2010 at 12:41 am

    I’m putting this on this week’s menu! Maybe with a side of whole wheat pasta and some broccoli.

  • 5 Angie // Oct 5, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Awesome! I have chicken thawed out for tonight but my kids are SICK SICK SICK of the boring stuff I make with chicken over and over. They are also the pickiest eater children on the planet (because I am the pickest eater adult on the planet–I own the responsiblity for ruining the kids) and they will LOVE this. Can’t wait! SO VERY GLAD I found this site last week! How did I live without it??

  • 6 Jessica // Oct 5, 2010 at 1:44 am

    I think we’ll be having this for dinner at my house tonight! Perhaps with a side of quinoa and a green salad? Thank you so much for the easy, delicious recipes!

  • 7 Vanessa // Oct 5, 2010 at 1:53 am

    I’m so excited that my recipe made it on to the site. I think I might have to give credit to Olive magazine – my favourite UK food magazine. Maybe I should make it again tonight! So glad the girls enjoyed it second time around too.

  • 8 amanda // Oct 5, 2010 at 2:04 am

    i am on jury duty right now and have my time for dinner book with me. this meal trumps the one i was going to make – lemony chicken with potatoes! any subs for marscapone?

  • 9 Bruce Barone // Oct 5, 2010 at 5:05 am

    This looks good. Think I will try it tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it turns out. If you are looking for an amazing meatball recipe I posted one this morning.

  • 10 jenny f. // Oct 5, 2010 at 5:13 am

    Wow! This sounds delicious, so unbelievably simple, and includes ingredients that my recently-decided-to-become-picky 4-year-old daughter won’t turn her nose up at – which equates to “right up my alley.” Grocery day is tomorrow and the ingredients have been added to my list… :)

  • 11 cailen // Oct 5, 2010 at 5:50 am

    mmm…that looks soooo good!

  • 12 shannon // Oct 5, 2010 at 6:35 am

    Thanks for the recipe – this looks awesome. But I’m more intrigued by the starter! Can you say more? Please? The prosciutto is wrapped around the bocconcini and the half fig? And it’s cooked? Or, no? Sounds divine. I’m a newbie when it comes to figs, but wondering what to do with those little purple fruits.

  • 13 Trish O // Oct 5, 2010 at 7:41 am


  • 14 andrea // Oct 5, 2010 at 11:15 am

    made this tonight. perfect!!

  • 15 Nikki // Oct 5, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Do you think you could subsitute ricotta for the mascarpone?

  • 16 Jenny // Oct 5, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Nikki: Yes ricotta is fine — in fact when Vanessa emailed it to me she said she has also substituted mozzarella for the mascarpone and pasta for the chicken. It’s very flexible.

  • 17 Jan @ Family Bites // Oct 5, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    The entire meal sounds fantastic – the starter and the main course. And the fact that six different kids devoured it is fantastic.

  • 18 Mary // Oct 5, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Wow, ask the universe what’s for dinner, and blam, your amazing blog provides! Thanks, Jenny!

  • 19 Deirdre // Oct 5, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Do you put the prosciutto-wrapped bocconcini under the broiler or is it served raw?

  • 20 Carrie // Oct 6, 2010 at 2:07 am

    Having *just* made this for our lunches tomorrow, I can attest that it is so easy and tastes so good I had a hard time putting it away for lunches! (and yes, I love making dinner so much that if I don’t get home until really late, I make dinner for lunches the next day.)

    love your site, thanks for sharing this tweetable recipe!

  • 21 julia // Oct 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I made this for just me and my husband, and it was enough for two dinners plus a lunch for me. Fantastic! It was really good, a nice warm meal for early fall. I couldn’t find mascarpone so I just used a lot of whole milk ricotta and it worked great. Thanks!

  • 22 Lee // Oct 6, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    I made this and somehow read creme fresh instead of marscapone- very good with creme fresh too!

  • 23 Lynne // Oct 7, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    crush or mince the garlic? or whole?

  • 24 Jenny // Oct 7, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Lynne – minced. Sorry, I will correct in recipe! Thanks for pointing that out.

  • 25 Emily // Oct 7, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    I cooked this last night and it was terrific. I served it with mashed potatoes and snap peas. My husband walked in the house while it was cooking and said, “Wow! What smells so good? ” This goes down as a real favorite.

  • 26 Amy // Oct 10, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Just made this for Sunday dinner – yum! I doubled the amount of diced tomatoes so there would be enough sauce to serve the whole meal over mini bowtie pasta. I’ll definitely be making this again. I’m looking forward to the little bit that’s left for lunch tomorrow.

  • 27 gillian // Oct 12, 2010 at 9:27 am

    I made this for dinner last night and it was very good. I did not have marscapone or ricotta, so I used two triangles of Laughing Cow cheese. Weird, but it worked! I also used one large can of tomatoes (28 0z) to double the sauce. So happy to have found your website!

  • 28 Lucy S // Oct 12, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Is it just me? I made this and did not have the same reception. The chicken was just too tough. I followed the recipe to the letter, the sauce was tasty, but the chicken was inedible.

  • 29 Jenny // Oct 12, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Lucy – A mystery! Did you brown only 2 minutes a side (not more?) and fully immerse the chicken in the sauce before baking? Those are the only two steps I can think of where you are at risk of a yielding a tough chicken.

  • 30 Amelia // Oct 13, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Do you cover it when you put it in the oven or leave uncovered?

  • 31 Gretchen // Oct 14, 2010 at 2:12 am

    Made this the other night and it was fabulous! Now I just have to figure out what to do with the left over Marscapone cheese. Any ideas?

  • 32 Marianne // Nov 16, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I also couldn’t find mascarpone. Would cream cheese work? I am hoping to make this tonight.

  • 33 Jenny // Nov 16, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Cream cheese is probably not so ideal. How about ricotta or mozzarella?

  • 34 Katie // Jan 17, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I am preparing the baked chicken in creamy tomato sauce to deliver to a friend tomorrow. I am wondering if I should bake it at 350 for 20 minutes and have her re-heat it (microwave or oven)? Or should I cook it to that point and have her bake it at home? Thank you.

  • 35 Jenny // Jan 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Katie – That’s so nice of you. I’d prepare it until the baking step then give her the instructions to finish it. (To avoid too-tough chicken.) Tell her to try to bring it to room temperature before she puts the dish in the oven, too. Hope she enjoys it.

  • 36 Meredith // Jan 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Cooking this as I type! Pork chops and kale on the menu for tomorrow. I LOVE your site!!

  • 37 Rebecca // Feb 13, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I tried it first with ricotta b/c it’s what we has in the fridge. It didn’t melt well and gave the sauce a less-than-pleasing grainy look. The second time I used Mascarpone and wow, it was perfect. I will make this delicious sauce with or without the chicken- in fact I think I’ll make it just with pasta again this week to use up the rest of the Mascarpone. I can’t stop thinking about it, it was that good! I also recommend using an extra 1/2 can of tomatoes or so to make more sauce.

  • 38 Jason // Apr 19, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Just looking at the pictures make me hungry already… especially those tomato sauce…

  • 39 Tracy // Aug 19, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Just made this last night – LOVE! I think next time I will use a larger can of tomatoes as well. I ended up using fire roasted tomatoes (Muir Glen) and it was fantastic.

  • 40 Teresa // Sep 19, 2011 at 3:20 am

    Made this for some dinner guests tonight and it was great! I used the organic boneless thighs from Trader Joe’s and they were extremely tender. Served over TJ’s egg pappardalle pasta. Great meal! Thank you for the recipe.

  • 41 Melissa // Oct 31, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Okay, I see I’m a year late to this party, but the dish looks amazing, and I have a question. Bake covered or uncovered? Thanks!

  • 42 Patricia // Nov 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Great recipe. Served it on Bonfire night to four picky hungry Grandsons. I doubled the quantity so adults could have their share. Don’t go there, the four boy’s ate the lot. Will be making it again at the request of the adults, Grandchildren will not be invited. Have already emailed recipe to my Sister, who carn’t wait to try it. Many thanks it made Bonfire Night special.

  • 43 Carrie Z // Feb 8, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Delish. I used my immersion blender to make the sauce a bit smoother so my kiddos would eat it – and they couldn’t get enough. Thanks!!

  • 44 Erika // Oct 4, 2012 at 8:46 am

    I made this in the crock pot and it came out great! I cooked it on low for 8 hours. I added the mascarpone around hour 6 but I think you could add it any time. I served it with pasta which always makes everyone happy!

  • 45 Amy // Jan 8, 2013 at 12:53 am

    Thanks for the recipe, it was great! I subbed LF cream cheese for the mascarpone and it worked well. Super tasty. Thank you!

  • 46 Nikki // Feb 7, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    I made this recipe last night after seeing it in the DALS cookbook. It was so good! Everybody ate it, even the picky eaters! Do you think it would freeze well? I was thinking of preparing it to the baking point, then freezing it. Then you could thaw and finish the baking step.

  • 47 Awads // Sep 24, 2013 at 7:24 am

    I am making my way through DALS at a very rapid clip here (sort of like Julie and Julia). I made this dish last night. It was delicious, but I think next time I will wait to add the mascarpone and basil closer to the end. I wound up having to cook the chicken longer than 20 minutes in the end (more like 30) and by then the cheese had separated. It was still good, but not as creamy as I’d hoped.

  • 48 Jennifer // Apr 7, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    My kids dislike chunky of tomato and onion so I tossed the sauce in my blender & totally TRICKED them. They loved it! Also I did use a combo of Neufchâtel & light sour cream in place of mascarpone with no problems. Lastly, I baked mostly covered with just a bit vented. Big hit!

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