Balsamic Chicken with Crushed Tomatoes

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Confession time!  I had to look up how to spell “balsamic”.  I always want to spell it wrong.  And I want to pronounce it incorrectly.  Doesn’t “bal-sal-mic” have a better ring to it?  Ok.  No.

No matter how you spell or say the word “balsamic”, it still tastes good.  Really good!  And there are few things about balsamic vinegar that people should know.  This is the kind of stuff that culinary dreams are made of.  Seriously.

When looking in the grocery store for balsamic vinegar, it can get a bit overwhelming.  Do you really need that really expensive stuff, or can we just get away with the cheap stuff this time?  Really, what’s the difference?  Well, I have a little trick for transforming the cheap stuff into the sweet, sticky nectar we all expect when we open the bottle of the expensive stuff.  Not the $600-bottle-expensive-stuff-that-was-made-by-a-little-old-man-in-Italy-on-his-deathbed-so-there-will-never-be-another-bottle-of-this expensive.  More like turning a $10 bottle into one that tastes like the one that costs $100.

Ready?  Here it is.  Concentrate it by pouring your cheap-o balsamic vinegar into a saucepan and letting it simmer until it reduces by half.  It should be slightly thick and be able to coat the back of a spoon.  If you taste a bit, it should be a little sweet and tangy.  If it’s not sweet enough for you, you could stir in a tablespoon or two of honey while its still warm.  Once cool, pour it back in the bottle.  Easy peasy!

I only do this step for a balsamic vinegar that I don’t cook with.  You know, if you use it in a salad dressing (Caprese, anyone?) or as a bread dipper with olive oil.  If I cook with the balsamic vinegar, I just go ahead and use the cheap stuff.  The heat will cook off the water anyway!

Either way, I hope you LOVE this recipe.  I did!  I wanted seconds.  Or thirds.  Or fifties.  Ok, not fifties.  That would hurt.  A. LOT.

Balsamic Chicken with Crushed Tomatoes

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  • 2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • pint grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups cooked noodles (cook according to box directions)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Dry chicken breasts with paper towels.  Sprinkle with sea salt and Italian Seasoning.
  3. In an oven-proof skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmers.  Add the chicken and cook until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  4. Add tomatoes and nestle them around the chicken pieces.   Pour balsamic vinegar over the chicken and tomatoes, and quickly place the skillet in the oven.
  5. Bake until most of the tomatoes have burst, 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.  Place skillet with tomatoes back on stovetop over medium heat.  Add garlic.  Using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes until they form a chunky sauce.  If desired, simmer for a few minutes to thicken.  Be careful not to grab the handle of the skillet.  ITS HOT!
  7. Just after draining noodles while they’re still hot, toss to coat with butter.  Place half the noodles on each plate.  Top with a chicken breast and pour half the crushed tomato sauce on top.
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