Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Joy of Vinegar

By Rachel Kleinsorge

I returned from vacation in Las Vegas with an unusual souvenir in my bag: a $20 bottle of aged balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegars are made from leftover grapes that will never be wine. In my house, balsamic vinegars are called “drinking vinegars” for their sweet-sharp flavor. I’d rather sip a shot-glass full of aged balsamic vinegar than malt whiskey. Before you judge me, give it a try; you’ll be surprised by the way a good balsamic vinegar brings out the sweetness of strawberries, the creaminess of avocado, and the crisp salty flavor of ham.

Others may argue about the supposed health benefits of balsamic vinegar, but my attention focuses on the flavor-filled burst it can give ordinary foods. With roughly 25 calories per tablespoon and no fat, a little balsamic vinegar goes a long way to adding life to boring entrees or so-so salad dressing. The recipe below is one of my favorites, a mix of herbs and balsamic vinegar that makes skinless boneless chicken into something special.

Herbed Balsamic Chicken Breasts


2 chicken breasts (roughly ½ a pound)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon garlic
½ tsp Onion Powder


Remove all fat and skin from the chicken. Press the breasts to a uniform thickness; set aside. Mix remaining ingredients in a shallow cooking dish. Marinade the chicken between 20 minutes and eight hours; flavor will intensify with longer times. Place baking dish (with chicken in marinade) in a 350-degree oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until the center of the thickest piece of chicken is 165 degrees.

Serve the chicken sliced over white rice with the marinade drizzled artfully on the plate, or chop the breasts into chunks and toss them with your favorite salad fixings. One of the beauties of the recipe is its flexibility. Thanks to the strong taste of the balsamic vinegar, the chicken is flavorful even if you’re in a rush.

Where do you use vinegar in your cooking? Are there any ways to enjoy good balsamic vinegar that I’m missing?

When she’s not cooking, buying, or dreaming about food, Rachel Kleinsorge writes steamy paranormal mystery romances. She is currently waiting for the call from her agent, the amazing Carolyn Grayson, while working on her next novel.


Michelle Butler on January 23, 2010 at 8:36 AM said...

Rachel, this recipe looks wonderful! I can't wait to try it. Thanks for sharing.

I like balsamic vinegar too, but I've never thought about how much flavor it can add for little calories. I do love it in dressings, and I recently made a WW ropa vieja (cuban dish translated as old clothes - basically a way to dress up an old beef roast) with balsamic vinegar, and it was amazing! I may need to experiment more.

Cal Orey, Author-Intuitive on January 23, 2010 at 1:30 PM said...

Looks great. People need to get that vinegar is more than just for salads...and that there are a variety of types with health perks.
author of The Healing Powers of Vinegar

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on January 23, 2010 at 9:01 PM said...

This looks like a very tasty recipe, Rachel. Thanks so much for sharing it with us today.

Malea on January 27, 2010 at 5:23 PM said...

If you love balsamic, check out the Olive Branch -- they sell very high quality infused balsamic vinegars in flavors like cinammon-pear & strawberry. These are NOT artificially flavored and they are *delicious*! The Olive Branch also sells infused olive oils. This site will help you make the best salad you've ever had!

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