When Your Relationship (with Chicken) is in a Rut

Let’s talk about chicken ruts. They’re a widespread problem, right?

I’ve always been finicky with my meats and proteins. Porkchops and I have never gotten along as handsomely as they have with Peter Brady. Lamb I can do without. And when it comes to critters of the sea, lakes and streams, there are only two forms I’ll eat and zero that are reasonable (or fresh) enough to find at Jewel-Osco (RIP Dominick’s, your Chicago absence has significantly decreased my quality of life).

Lately I’ve (so incredibly reluctantly) strayed from major and frequent consumption of red meat (but never will I ever give up cheeseburgers, so there’s that.)  You can then imagine my desperation every Monday night – designated grocery list drafting time in Apartment #1203 – when I pore over every food blog in my daily repertoire, every food e-newsletter in my inbox, and every section in my 1000+ recipe Bon Appétit cookbook looking for a chicken recipe that conjures up hunger even half as much as the thought of Chili’s chicken finger meal. (Shame.)

As much as I don’t want to believe it, I’ve come to the very mature realization that not every chicken dish I make/ingest should be slathered with a melted Mexican cheese blend or sautéed in a white wine and butter sauce (although that’s a beyond solid recipe that will be shared.)

So it seemed like a form of poultry serendipity when this recipe fell into my lap, especially having recently been gifted two of the main ingredients (other worldly Greek honey and balsamic vinegar that came with its own detachable cork pour top). I have to believe that nectar from a plastic teddy bear bottle and $3 balsamic vinegar would work just as well…or maybe I just don’t want to live in a world where it wouldn’t.

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In any case, it shook me of my fowl desperation for the week. Sometimes it’s just the simple things.

Honey Balsamic Glazed Chicken
Adapted from Budget Bytes. Makes around 4 servings (leave some leftovers because these flavors tasted even better on day 2.)

1-1.5 lb boneless chicken breasts
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
(Separate) 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp honey
Salt + pepper

Let’s start with the breasts (defrosted). If you have the ultra thin cutlets, pass go and collect $200. Get out of this next step free. If your breasts are more than 1/4 inch thick (let’s be honest, aren’t they all?), take a sharp knife and carefully slice them in half horizontally. Consider yourself an amateur butcher.

Next, take all your chicken pieces and place them in one large quart sized ziplock bag OR if you’re not a freaking Cub Scout about your kitchen accoutrement (like me, the Brownie Scout drop-out), divide them across two sando-sized bags. Evenly distribute the 1/4 c balsamic, garlic and 1 tbsp worth of olive oil across the bags. Add a couple shakes of salt and pepper as well. Seal the bags (make sure the air is out) and much everything around until the contents are coated. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (these can probably marinate over night even if you’re a planner like that).

Stove time: heat the remaining olive oil in a large pan and cook the breasts. You won’t be able to necessarily go by the looks of their browning since the balsamic dyes them brown from the start. Given that you cut these so thin, they should only take 2-3 minutes a side. Place all of the cooked chicken on a plate.

Lower the heat to medium low and in the same pan add the extra 2 tbsp balsamic and butter. Once the butter melts down and incorporate with the vinegar, add your honey, honey. Bring the heat back up slightly and let it go for 5 minutes. The sauce should get thick, almost viscous but not quite, and then you know it’s done. Season with a little more salt and pepper (I feel like a little onion powder would work nicely too.)

You could add the chicken back to the pan and bathe it in the sauce, or, if you err on the side of control freak, ladle out sauce atop each serving.

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2 thoughts on “When Your Relationship (with Chicken) is in a Rut

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