This recipe makes boneless skinless chicken breasts very juicy and flavorful. You get the taste of the balsamic but the cooking takes away a lot of the tart mouth-puckering qualities, and the vinegar marinade really helps the chicken retain its juice during the cooking process. The herbs (fresh, of course) also infuse flavor during the marinating process. Best of all, it's an extremely convenient recipe as long as you remember to put the chicken in the marinade the night or morning before you plan to cook it! It pairs nicely with any green vegetable cooked with just some olive oil, lemon and garlic, or a salad, or even a small serving of pasta or potatoes.
Total Prep Time: 15 minutes (not including the time you marinate the chicken)
Total Cook Time: 20 minutes
What you will need:
1 package boneless skinless chicken breasts (anywhere between 1 - 1 1/2 lbs)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
dried italian herbs
5 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled but not minced
fresh herbs (when I made this, I only had rosemary in the house, but this would taste wonderful if you put in fresh thyme, basil or sage as well)
red pepper flakes
To Prepare for Marinade:
Cut the chicken breasts so that each breast is two pieces. You can do it either through the horizontal or vertical plane of the chicken, however you prefer.
In a gallon size freezer ziploc bag, pour your vinegar and soy sauce. Then add the garlic cloves, and add your fresh herbs as well (I used two sprigs of whole rosemary, but a few leaves or stems of each type of herb you want to use is all you will need. It will take a lot to go too overboard with them). Cut the herbs roughly so that they release their oils into the marinade. Then add two or three good shakes of the dried italian seasonings, and as much red pepper as you'd like (that is very much to taste).
Add the chicken to the bag, close tightly, then move the chicken around in the marinade, trying to get the marinade to cover as much of the chicken as possible. If you find that you truly do not have enough marinade to get all over all of your chicken, then add just a splash more balsamic and soy to the bag; be careful, because the chicken does not need to go swimming! I really think of this as giving the chicken a nice spa bath, more than anything else; enough liquid to relax it, but not enough so it can do laps.
You can marinate the chicken in the refrigerator anywhere between 3 hours and 24 hours. I typically make up this mixture the night before I want to cook it, or sometimes I'll do it right before work, since it really takes no time at all. When you marinate the chicken in the refrigerator, try and lay it as flat as possible so all of the chicken stays in its little spa.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, take the chicken out of the refrigerator, crack the bag a little bit, and let the chicken come up closer to room temperature. When you cook meat, it's always better to try and let it warm up a little bit from the refrigerator; you will get a much more even cook on it, and the inside and outside of the meat will cook at the same rate.
Place the chicken pieces on a roasting rack. If you don't have a roaster, then you can lay them flat on a baking sheet covered in tin foil or even a glass baking dish. Try not to crowd them in the baking dish, they need some room to breathe and for the juice to evaporate.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turning the pieces once during the cooking process.
Serve, and enjoy!!!