Friday, 20 February 2015

Citrus and Balsamic Chicken Breasts

This meal was my chance to clear a lot of bits and pieces out of the fridge, and did it ever feel good! I had some chicken breasts that I wanted to cook, and when I pulled everything out of the fridge, I found quite a few things to use up.

There was some cooked rice, fresh basil, half a tomato and half a shallot that I heated together and turned into a side dish. Lots of colour and flavour, very tasty.

There were some carrots, and these were sliced and boiled until just tender, and then I heated them up with the last tablespoon of chipotle peach jelly...a kind of glazed carrots, but with a little bit of a kick from the chipotle.

As for the chicken, I finished off the plain Greek yoghurt, some balsamic vinaigrette and used up some zest from the many lemons, limes and oranges that are in the fruit bowl.

For the marinade, mix together:

2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon each of lemon, lime and orange zest
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
salt and pepper to taste

Pour the marinade over the chicken breasts, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

The chicken breasts I was using had been cut in half so that each one was half the thickness of a regular breast.

Heat a large pan, and cook the chicken. No oil is needed, as the oil in the vinaigrette is sufficient.

If you feel that the chicken is starting to dry out, add a splash of chicken stock to the pan. This also gives you some sauce for your rice.

When the chicken is cooked through, serve it with the rice and vegetables.

  • Any vinaigrette or salad dressing can be used in the marinade. If you have a creamy dressing, the yoghurt can be omitted.
  • Sour cream or buttermilk can also be used in place of the yoghurt.
  • Instead of adding a vinaigrette to the yoghurt, add juice from half a lemon, lime and orange as well as a bit of olive oil. Fresh herbs or minced garlic can also be added.
  • Plain yoghurt is your best choice, but a flavoured one can also be used. Just remember that there is usually a lot of added sugar, so it needs to be balanced out with some acid, such as extra vinegar or lemon juice.
  • The chicken can be cooked on the grill, or browned in a pan and finished off in the oven. It can also be cut into strips or chunks and skewered before grilling, or breaded and baked...chicken strips.
  • To glaze carrots with something other than just brown sugar or honey, think outside the box...maple syrup; red pepper or spicy fruit jellies; wine jellies; apple juice; balsamic vinegar and a bit of brown sugar. Cook them until just tender, then heat them when you are ready, along with the 'glaze' of your choice.
  • Leftover rice can easily be re-purposed, just look around for herbs, vegetables, nuts or seeds that will complement your meal. Stir fry it all together in a non-stick pan, stirring often and you have a tasty side dish. Try things such as frozen peas; green onions; red peppers, fresh or roasted; chick peas; chopped fresh chives or thyme; the last bit of salsa in the jar; a bit of BBQ or hot sauce; crumbled blue cheese; minced chipotle peppers, or even just some of the adobo sauce; toasted almonds.
  • The leftover chicken was used for sandwhiches at lunchtime today, and tasted just as good cold as it did hot. It can also be used on a salad, in a wrap, on a pizza or in a pasta dish.

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