Back in November while at the Foodbuzz Fest I tried for the first time, and consequently fell in love with, Apple Balsamic Vinegar. Made from apple vinegar and apple juice it had the characteristic depth of balsamic vinegar with the sweetness of apples. And having been aged for 5 years it was also slightly syrupy and had grown out of the sharpness I tend to associate with vinegar. Immediately after sampling I wanted to buy it, but knew I should probably wait since I had just purchased a set of four flavored balsamic vinegars from Lucero the week before.
Lucky me, The House of Balsamic offered me the chance to sample their Apple Balsamic as well as their Saporoso Riserva, a balsamic vinegar that ages for 8 years in oak barrels and 8 months in a steel containers. I also tried the Saporoso Riserva at the Foodbuzz Fest and know it will be making appearances in some recipes here in the near future. But for the meantime, let’s focus on the Apple Balsamic.
Retailing at around $20, the Apple Balsamic, for me, is more of a special occasion condiment than an everyday vinegar. Like some of the pricier olive oils I keep my cupboard, I like to save it for meals where its flavors can really be showcased rather than muddled or hidden amongst too many other ingredients.
One of my favorite ways to use it is in a simple cream sauce with apples and onions.
I use mine to dress up an everyday chicken breast, but it would be equally good over pork or duck. Inspired by Cooking Light, this easy yet elegant dish involves cooking chicken breasts, onions and apples. The pan is then deglazed with chicken broth (or good homemade chicken stock if you have it on hand), the Apple Balsamic and a couple of tablespoons of heavy whipping cream to finish. It’s easy enough for a weeknight dinner for one (with ample leftovers of course), yet elegant enough to trot out for date night or a dinner party.
The vinegar worked beautifully in this dish. The whipping cream softens it ever so slightly and the chicken breast, ever the perfect backdrop, adds just the lightest bit of meatiness to keep this dish from being too sweet. I also enjoyed how the apple slices gave a nod to the apple flavor in the vinegar and added a nice bit of tart to contrast with the sweet. Honestly the sauce was so good I kept dipping my finger in it, not to mention wishing I had made some pasta or crusty bread to keep a single drop from going to waste.
And the best part is this dish only uses 2 tablespoons of the vinegar so you can easily stretch a bottle out into many more uses. I’m thinking next time I’ll reduce it so it is even more syrupy and drizzle over one of my favorite hard cheeses.
Adapted from Cooking Light
-4 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper,
-1 teaspoon butter
-1 teaspoon olive oil
-1 half sweet onion, thinly sliced
-1 medium cooking apple (I used Fuji), cored, halved and thinly sliced
-3/4 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
-2 tablespoons apple balsamic
-2 tablespoons whipping cream
-1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from pan; keep warm. Add onions and apples to the pan and saute 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in chicken broth and vinegar, and cook until apples and onions have softened, about 4 minutes . Remove from the heat and stir in whipping cream. Serve sauce with the chicken. Sprinkle with parsley.