Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chicken Breasts with Balsamic-Garlic Reduction

Ooh! Don't I sound classy! Heehee. I used to have no idea what a "reduction" was when I saw it on fancy restaurant menus. But now I understand...duh! It's just reducing the liquid by excess cooking time to make the flavors bolder and richer. :)
Well, I always love to add new chicken recipes to my rotation, and this one is here to stay! I have made it twice now and both times Hubby has exclaimed over the excellent aroma and flavor. And my motto is: "When Hubby exclaims, I retain!" Haha, not really, but you get the general idea. The recipe gets officially printed and filed. :) Anyway, this particular recipe was again located on my fav cooking site, allrecipes, and is very easy, though it has lovely elegant flavors! I tweaked it a bit to my liking, but I'll include the link to the original recipe in case you want to try it their way! :) I'm not a fan of mushrooms, so I left those out.
First order of business- to thaw my frozen chicken breasts. We shop in Spokane (about an hr away) once a month, so I always go with having frozen chicken breasts on hand, which I thaw in the microwave. This takes about 11 min, so I have to remember to add that to the cooking time! While the chicken is thawing, I peel garlic cloves and heat up the olive oil in the skillet. If anyone knows of a really easy way to peel garlic, please let me know! Anyway, once the chicken is thawed, I season it lightly with salt and pepper, then sauté it until it is nicely browned on one side, but not fully cooked.
Next, I add the whole garlic cloves (which besides adding flavor add a wonderful aroma to the kitchen!). Then I turn the chicken and continue to cook it for a few minutes, until it is mostly done, stirring the garlic around so it gets soft and sweet.
Once the chicken looks like it is pretty thoroughly cooked (but not overcooked!), I add the sauce ingredients- balsamic vinegar, chicken broth, thyme and a bay leaf. The only experience I had with balsamic vinegar before this was at nice restaurants where you can dip your bread in it. Yum! I was afraid it might be too strong a flavor, but it is delicious! Once the sauce ingredients are mixed together, I cover the skillet and simmer it on low heat for about 10 minutes, turning the chicken a couple of times to be sure it gets coated with the sauce. I then remove the chicken to a covered plate to keep it warm and start the sauce reducing! :) Simply simmer an additional 7 minutes or so at a little higher heat. Then swirl a bit of butter into the sauce, pour over the chicken, and serve!
I like to serve this with rice to soak up the sauce, but pasta would probably also be a good alternative. Bon appetit!

Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Vinegar and Garlic Reduction
(printable version)
(my tweaking- original recipe can be found here)
Serves 4

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp butter

1)Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in skillet over med-hi heat and sauté chicken until nicely browned on one side (about 3 minutes).
2) Add the garlic. Turn the chicken. Continue frying about 3 minutes, then add vinegar, broth, bay leaf and thyme. Cover tightly and simmer over med-low heat for 10 min., turning occasionally.
3) Transfer chicken to a warm serving platter and cover. Set aside. Continue simmer sauce, uncovered, over med-hi heat for about 7 min. Swirl in the butter and discard bay leaf. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.
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