We walked nearly 20 miles during our weekend in Savannah (according to my Fitbit, that is), and our aimless meandering about the city included a dozen or so passes by Paula Dean’s Lady and Sons restaurant. I’ve liked Paula Dean since the first time I stumbled upon her TV show. I adore her southern charm, youthful excitement, and penchant for using a stick of butter (or two) in every friggin recipe. When it comes to ingredients, I don’t possess Paula’s steadfast dedication to any one particular item, but rather four: onions, garlic, Frank’s Red Hot, and balsamic vinegar. These are my four superstars, and I believe any one of them can take a meal from blah to brilliant. In another life, I’ll write cookbooks dedicated to each of them. Promise.
Tonight’s dinner was all about *BALSAMIC VINEGAR*
Baked Balsamic Chicken with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Pesto (serves 4)
Adapted from Eat, Live, Run Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Mozzarella and Pesto
- 4 chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs, or 6 ounces each)
- 2 cups balsamic vinegar, divided
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 4 ounces mozzarella (preferably fresh)
- 1/4 cup prepared pesto (try my basil almond pesto recipe)
- Dried oregano
Step One: Season chicken breasts with S&P. Place chicken, 4 cloves garlic (minced OR roughly chopped, your call), and one cup of balsamic in a ziploc baggie or Tupperware and marinate in fridge for 1 hour. Don’t exceed the one hour mark as the vinegar may start to break down the chicken in weird ways.
Step Two: While the chicken marinates, heat 1 cup of balsamic vinegar over medium high heat for 15-20 minutes until liquid has reduced by half. Remove from heat, and use a spatula to pour the reduction into a small bowl or serving pitcher to cool.
Step Three: Cover a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Remove chicken from balsamic marinade, place on prepared baking sheet, and bake at 375 for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove chicken from oven and turn on the oven broiler. Top each chicken breast with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese then sprinkle with S&P and dried oregano. Leaving the oven door slightly ajar, broil chicken for 4 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Top each breast with 1 tbsp pesto and a drizzle of the balsamic reduction.
“I’d rather die with a potato in my mouth than a piece of lettuce.” – Paula Deen