Maverick Life


Level up your chicken breasts with this easy and tasty recipe from ‘That Sounds So Good’

'That Sounds So Good' by Carla Lalli Music book cover (left) and a chicken dish from the book (right). Images: Supplied. Image composite: The Reading List

The ethos behind ‘That Sounds So Good’, the new cookbook and instant New York Times bestseller from Carla Lalli Music, is that great food should be effortless.

The book by Carla Lalli Music – of Bon Appétit Test Kitchen YouTube fame – has gorgeous photography and go-to recipes for every situation, with whatever you have on hand. As always, her dishes are inviting and get-your-attention-good.

That Sounds So Good is Music at her effortless best, and it shows how you can be too.


Flash-in-the-Pan Chicken with Burst Tomato Sauce

2 servings

Despite their enduring popularity, boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be very disappointing. They’re quite lean – which is what some people love about them – and that’s exactly what can cause them to be bland and dry. But when they’re good, they bring power to the paillard. Cooking them almost all the way through on one side will result in a chewy crust and superlative browning, and prevents the chicken from overcooking. If you go a tiny bit over, the bright and juicy tomato pan sauce will camouflage your mistakes.


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (280–340 g/10–12 oz total)

kosher salt; freshly ground black pepper

1 large French shallot

3 garlic cloves

handful chives

75 ml (2½ fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil

pinch of crushed chilli flakes

12 oz (340 g/2 cups) cherry tomatoes 

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar



Pat the chicken breasts dry and season both sides with salt and black pepper. Place them between two sheets of greaseproof (waxed) paper or plastic wrap and, using a rolling pin or meat mallet, pound them out to about 5 mm (¼ in). Thinly slice the shallot into rings, thinly slice the garlic cloves and thinly slice the chives. Set all these things aside separately.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high. Add 3 tablespoons oil, then place the chicken in the frying pan. Press down on the breasts firmly with a spatula to ensure the chicken is making good contact with the surface of the pan, then cook, undisturbed, until the underside is deep golden brown and there is a thick band of cooked flesh around the edge, 4–6 minutes. About halfway through, lift up the breasts from one corner and let oil flow underneath, then place them back down. Turn breasts and cook until light golden brown on second side and just cooked through, 1–2 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Lower the heat to medium and add the remaining oil. Add the garlic and shallot and cook, stirring, until the shallot is translucent and garlic is starting to turn light golden brown, 1–2 minutes. Season with salt and a pinch of chilli flakes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until their skins start to shrivel, 4 minutes. Using the back of the spoon, gently smash tomatoes until they split open and release their juices  (don’t flatten them, simply encourage them to burst), then cook until slightly saucy, 2 minutes more. Add the vinegar and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and stir in chives. Spoon burst tomato sauce over chicken breasts.


From the Market

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts


Cherry Tomatoes


Spin It

This works with  4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or pork medallions

Basil, tarragon or parsley can replace chives

A chopped large tomato or two can replace the cherry tomatoes


At Home

Salt and pepper

French shallot


Olive oil

Chilli flakes

Red wine vinegar


Spin It

Half a red onion can replace the shallot

Use sherry vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. DM/ ML

Carla Lalli Music is the author of the bestseller Where Cooking Begins and the host of Carla’s Cooking Show. Formerly the food director of Bon Appétit, she lives in Brooklyn with her family. That Sounds So Good: 100 Real-Life Recipes for Every Day of the Week is published by Hardie Grant Books (R455). Visit The Reading List for South African book news – including recipes! – daily.


Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

No Comments, yet

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted