What’s funny about quick and easy dinner recipes using chicken breasts is that they often end up shredded in something. But Balsamic Caprese Chicken isn’t!
Chicken is one of the easiest forms of protein to purchase and make for dinner, but how much chicken can you really eat before you are kind of sick and tired of it. No more chicken tacos and casseroles every day, chicken can totally be classy, flavorful and not shredded.
I mean, we love shredded chicken, but sometimes you just want something different.
Wait until you try this Balsamic Caprese Chicken. It’s marinated to add extra flavor, topped with juicy, red tomatoes to really bump up the freshness and then covered in gooey cheese. The whole thing is placed in the oven to melt the cheese and then drizzled with a balsamic reduction. We love to sprinkle on a little just picked basil as well because those herbs brighten up the whole dish.
Now I know that could sound like a lot, but you can bust this out in 30 minutes or less and I’ll prove it to you.
Balsamic Chicken Marinade
Our balsamic chicken marinade has come together from a lot of trying this and that over the years. It’s a very simple marinade made up of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and salt. That’s it! And I bet you always have those things on hand too!
How to Make a Marinade
The formula for a fantastic marinade is really easy: An acid ingredient, something like lemon juice or vinegar, combines with a fat ingredient, like vegetable or olive oil plus additional seasonings and herbs are combined along with meat and then sealed together in the refrigerator.
You can also tenderize your meat with ingredients, like yogurt, milk, buttermilk, honey, or pineapple juice. Use them in place of the acid ingredient or in combination with them.
- What is a good marinade for chicken?
While we are talking about marinades for chicken, can we share a few of our favorites?
- Asian Ginger Marinade for Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Hawaiian Chicken
- Quick Grilled Chicken with Oregano
- Honey Lemon Basil Chicken
- Tuscan Grilled Chicken Kabobs
- Sweet and Saucy Grilled Chicken Thighs
When to Marinate Chicken
Whenever we pass a good marinade recipe on to someone they seem to immediately ask when to marinate chicken. That’s a very good question, and one that doesn’t have a perfect answer, so I’ll do my best to cover it all. Before I do, please know that different kinds of meat call for different guidelines, so this will only cover when to marinate chicken.
- How Long to Marinate Chicken?
Generally, two hours of marinating is long enough for the meat surface to soak up the flavors, but I’ve found that closer to 4 hours is better with breasts.
- How long can you keep raw chicken marinating in the refrigerator?
Let me tell you what, I’ve had dinner canceled, then forgot about marinating chicken and 3 days later wondered if I dared cook it. Now I’ve got the answer, you can safely leave marinated chicken in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, and that’s according to the USDA.
- How Long is Too Long to Marinate Chicken?
You absolutely can over marinade and that’s often anything over 24 hours. In fact, pretty much always over 24 hours. I’m going to be really bold here and blow your minds, you do NOT marinate meat in order to let the flavors soak all the way through the meat, in fact marinades will never hit the center. Instead, a marinade allows the first thing that gets cooked in a pan to caramelize and increase the flavor.
However, the longer the meat marinates the more the meat will turn mushy and stringy. Have you ever had that happen? You marinate meat and then when you grill it it’s not what you expected? You took it too far. Stick with 1-4 hours, overnight if you must.
- What is a balsamic reduction
Balsamic reduction, or balsamic glaze as some people call it is a simple sauce or syrup that is created simply by simmering balsamic vinegar until it thickens. You can also add a touch of sugar.
- How long to cook balsamic reduction
You will want to simmer your balsamic vinegar for 10-15 minutes after first bringing it to a boil. I’ve found cooking it in a wider pan like a high lipped skillet will also reduce things faster than a tall pot. Just make sure that towards the end you keep a close eye as the liquid can go from thick to burned quickly.
- How to store balsamic reduction
Does balsamic reduction have to be refrigerated?
Store balsamic reduction (balsamic glaze) in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
- How long does balsamic reduction keep
Balsamic reduction, and this should make you very happy, does not expire. With time it will slowly lose flavor so it’s not perfect, but it does last a long time. And that’s pretty darn good news considering how strong it is to boil down.
- Why won’t my balsamic reduction thicken?
Every once in a blue moon I’ll reduce my balsamic vinegar to make a balsamic glaze and it remains thin and liquid, so what happened?
I’m not totally sure. I do know that the lower quality the more it has happened.
There’s also the matter of under simmering in too large of a pot. Or one, or the other. If it’s a deep pot with a lot of vinegar it takes longer to heat the whole thing and reduce it. You also can under simmer, forgetting how much liquid was in the pan and not fully reducing it.
Finally, you must let the balsamic glaze cool, even in the fridge if your kitchen is too warm. It’s the cooling process that truly thickens the balsamic reduction.
Balsamic Caprese Chicken
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Balsamic Caprese Chicken
- 4 Chicken Breasts boneless, skinless
- 2 Tomatoes sliced
- Fresh Mozzarella sliced
- Fresh Basil Leaves
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 1/3 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 Cloves of Garlic minced
- 2 Teaspoons Dried Basil
- 1/2 Teaspoon Sugar
- 3/4 Teaspoon Salt
- Dash of Black Pepper
- 1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/2 Teaspoon Sugar
- In a ziploc bag, combine the oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, sugar, salt and pepper.
- Add the chicken, pressing out the air and sealing.
- Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, prepare the balsamic reduction
- In a high lipped skillet, over medium high heat, add the vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes and remove from the heat to cool and thicken.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge.
- Heat a grill to medium high heat or heat the oven to 350.
- Place the chicken on the grill and turn down to medium heat. Cook for 6-7 minutes per side.
- In the oven method, merely put the chicken in a pan and cook for 30 minutes.
- Remove the chicken and top with two slices of tomato per breast and mozzarella cheese.
- Place under a broiler until melted.
- Remove the chicken to a place and drizzle with the balsamic reduction and sprinkle with basil, as well as a crack of black pepper if desired.