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.