Sunday, October 12, 2014

{Star Ingredient} -- Balsamic Done Savory and Sweet

Balsamic vinegar is a wonder.  Its tangy brightness, characteristic of vinegars, generally, and undeniable sweet notes, make it a versatile, star ingredient that should be resident in every gourmand's kitchen.  And while I first became acquainted with the savory, more traditional, ways of bringing balsamic into my cuisine, I have long since welcomed its ability to elevate and transform sweeter offerings into something truly special.

Today's post offers the best of both worlds, serving up easy, yet indulgent, recipes that will leave you forever convinced about why this pantry staple is a star ingredient, indeed. 

Balsamic Chicken

On the savory end, I'm sharing a recipe for Balsamic Chicken that will steer you away from the "we're having chicken again" doldrums. And for my sweet take, a little balsamic goes a long way.  Starting with the best aged balsamic I can find, it stars as the perfect finish and accent to luscious, roasted pears.  While these dishes are a cinch to pull together, they equally score as courses elegant enough for special occasions.  So whether you're in the mood for sweet, savory, or both, balsamic will give you something to relish.

Balsamic Roasted Pears

Happy Eating!

Balsamic Chicken

1.5-2 lbs. skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly parsley, roughly chopped (optional)

Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in a resealable bag.

In a small bowl, add vinegar, honey, soy, garlic and chili flakes, stirring or whisking to combine.   Pour marinade over chicken and reseal bag.  Massage chicken with marinade to coat well and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Remove chicken from bag and place chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet, skin side down.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Reserve marinade.

Turn on broiler and turn chicken skin side up.  Place chicken under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the skin becomes crisp, keeping a close eye on it. 

Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir frequently and allow sauce to cook until reduced and thickened.  Brush sauce over cooked chicken and garnish with fresh parsley, if using.  Serve and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Just a Taste

Balsamic Roasted Pears

Bosc pears, halved and cored
Brown sugar
Aged balsamic
Ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place pears in a baking dish, flesh side up.  Place a pat of butter in the hollow of each pear half, where the core once was.  Sprinkle brown sugar over the pears (as much as you please).  Place pears in heated oven and bake for 30 minutes, until pears are tender.

Remove pears from oven and place over ice cream.  Finish with a generous drizzle of balsamic over the ice cream and pears.  Serve and enjoy!



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