A Southern Grace: a restorative condiment

July 30, 2015

a restorative condiment


Lest you be misled as I was, balsamic vinegar is not made from the balsam flower (which, incidentally, is quite lovely).

Nope, it seems that the word balsamico means "restorative" or "curative" in Italian (can anyone confirm that?), and in my experience, that could certainly be an apt definition. Sniffing the straight vinegar will clear your sinuses right out, and eating anything drizzled with a balsamic reduction will quickly and effectively improve my day, however dreary it may be.

Because of that, I keep a squeeze bottle of balsamic reduction on hand and find myself adding it to lots of things, whether the recipes list it as an ingredient or not. This particular recipe, however, does call for it, and it's an awesome component. The other pieces are pretty fantastic too--herb-coated chicken, melted mozzarella, garden-fresh tomatoes, and lovely, verdant basil join forces to create an incredible meal that comes together easily and tastes amazing.

Balsamic Reduction (Atop Baked Caprese Chicken)
Based on this recipe
Serves 4
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar*
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 4 slices
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
To make the balsamic reduction, add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a slight boil and reduce by half, about 6-8 minutes; set aside and let cool. If it's too thick, add a little more vinegar and melt it in.
In a small bowl, combine olive oil, basil and oregano; season with salt and pepper, to taste; slather onto the chicken.
Melt butter in a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.
Place into oven and roast until the chicken is completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, about 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breasts.
Top each chicken with mozzarella cheese, then broil for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has melted completely.
Serve immediately, topped with sliced tomatoes, drizzled with balsamic reduction, and garnished with basil.

*As I'm wont to do, I bought one of the cheapest bottles of balsamic vinegar at my grocery store. By sheer coincidence, America's Test Kitchen did a taste test of supermarket balsamic vinegar not long after that, and the bottle I gotwas actually recommended!


Joanne said...

Balsamic reduction and I are best friends lately. It just makes everything taste better!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love balsamic vinegar and this dish is simply marvellous!



Amy (Savory Moments) said...

This looks delicious, Grace! A lovely summer meal with fresh tomatoes and basil.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigellah said...

Oh I didn't even think of the balsam flower-in fact I don't think I've ever smelled one but it sounds lovely. We use balsamic a lot, especially the balsamic glaze :)

Angie Schneider said...

A fantastic summer dish, Grace. I love balsamic reduction.

lisa is cooking said...

The balsamic drizzled over the dish looks so good! These are flavors that are meant to be together.

Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl said...

I'll be honest, balsamic is one of those things that I just can't be ok with. There's something about the smell that freaks me out (I know it's weird). But because this dish looks so great, maybe it's worth a second try...?

Marjie said...

That's a great looking chicken dinner. I have balsamic vinegar but have not used it much; maybe I should try something along these lines.

(And don't you just love it when a bargain turns out to be a highly recommended bargain?)

Sue/the view from great island said...

I should have known better than to read your blog before lunch, I'm craving this now!!

Pam said...

Grace, your Caprese Chicken sounds and looks really good! Balsamic works for me, love the aroma and taste. Great recipe!

Beth said...

I'm a big fan of using balsamic vinegar any time I can. Your reduction sounds like a perfect adornment for this chicken.

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

After seeing that pic on Instagram, I was hoping you would share the details. What an amazing presentation :)

Gerlinde de Broekert said...

Your post came at the right time for me. I'm running out of the balsamic reduction I bring back from Germany. Your chicken looks delicious.

Katerina said...

Very summery dish packed with veggie flavors and of course balsamico adds that special touch I love!