So I read this article about balsamic vinegar in my new favorite magazine, La Cucina Italiana. I knew, of course, the more you spend, the better the quality. And, I am even of the belief that, yes, I will buy the most expensive balsamic vinegar I can find in our supermarket. I get it – money equals quality in this instance.
Yet, what I didn’t know is that Italians really call TRUE balsamic vinegar “balsamico tradizionale,” which is carefully regulated by DOP standards (and entity that certifies Italian food products). And, it is so rare that it is only made in two areas of Italy – Modena and Reggio nell’Emilia.
So in my head I thought it might be nice to get my hands on some. After all, in the magazine it said, “it’s produced by hand, in small quantities, using methods that are hundreds of years old.” What could be better than that? Certainly not our American, mass-produced imitation.
So this all sounded well and good – until I found out the price. I am dedicated to food, truly I am. And I probably spend more at the grocery store per week for two people than the average Joe. But, when a bottle of balsamic costs more than a pair of Via Spiga boots – well, then I think again. So, this recipe used my $40 American, mass-produced equivalent, but that isn’t to say when I visit Italy later this year, I won’t be bringing a prized bottle back as a souvenir.
This chicken dish really brings out the natural flavor of the balsamic, with a little tangy tomato and anise-like tarragon. It seems to be a “go to” dish when I just don’t feel like “another chicken night.” Thanks to Rachael Ray for this one!!
CHICKEN TARRAGON IN CREAM SAUCE WITH WALNUT WILD RICE
1 package, 5 to 7 ounces, white and wild rice, cooked to package directions
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
Salt and pepper
4 pieces, 8 ounces each, boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, eyeball it
1/4 cup water, eyeball it
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup heavy cream, half-and-half or 1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup, 1 (2-ounce) package chopped walnuts, available on baking aisle, toasted
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
Cook rice according to package directions.
Preheat extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Brown and cook chicken, 5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken to a plate and cover. Reduce heat a bit. Add vinegar and water, scrape up pan drippings. Stir in tomato paste, cream, half-and-half or sour cream and tarragon. Remove from heat.
Toss nuts and parsley with cooked rice. Slice chicken on an angle and arrange on a bed of rice. Top with sauce and serve. Garnish plate with tarragon.