Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March 2: Balsamic-Glazed Chicken with Smoked Mozzarella and Garlic Rice Pilaf

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 minced garlic cloves
1 6-ounce box rice pilaf mix, such as Near East brand
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
   Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
3 garlic cloves chopped
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup chicken stock or broth
15 to 20 fresh basil leaves, 8 left whole, the rest shredded or torn
2 vine-ripe tomatoes, sliced
8 thin slices fresh smoked mozzarella, cut from a 1-pound ball

In a medium pot over high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and sauté the minced garlic for a minute or so. Add 1 ¾ cups water. Cover and bring to a simmer. Add the rice and flavor packet to the water. Stir to combine, reduce the heat, and cook for 18 minutes, covered.

While the rice is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for the chicken. Add 2 tablespoons or the EVOO. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add to the hot skillet. Cook the chicken for 5 to 6 minutes on each side.

Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover with foil. Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of EVOO and the onions, thyme, rosemary and garlic, then sauté for 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the balsamic vinegar, honey, and chicken stock. Cook until the liquids have reduced by half.

While the glaze is reducing, finish the rice pilaf. Add the shredded basil to the cooked rice, stirring with a fork to fluff the rice and combine the basil at the same time.

Once the balsamic glaze has reduced by half, turn off the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of cold butter. Stir and shake the pan until the butter melts.

Add the chicken breasts to the pan and coat them in the balsamic glaze. Top each breast with alternating layers of tomato, whole basil, and smoked mozzarella, using 2 slices of each per breast. Drizzle the EVOO over the tomato, basil, and cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the chicken alongside the garlic rice pilaf.


I am about 5 weeks pregnant, so my appetite has not been the best lately. Chicken is starting to tire me. This is a very good meal, but I would have been content to just eat the cheese and tomatoes without the chicken. I gave my husband part of it. If you're wondering, I couldn't find a ball of smoked mozzarella, so I had to use smoked string cheese :) It still tasted good, and I liked the smoky flavor. I didn't change much about this recipe, just the fresh thyme to dried. I used rice-a-roni and it was good. This is the first variation of the Balsamic-glazed pork chops. The next one is swordfish for Friday night. I won't be making it because swordfish is too expensive high in mercury. We'll be having pizza!

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