- Prep time 1 hour 5 minutes
- Cook time 15 minutes
- Serves 2
This vinegary, buttery chicken recipe uses balsamic not one, not two, but three different ways. First, balsamic in a saltwater marinade, which boosts the chicken’s humble flavor and encourages it to stay juicy, even if you forget to set a timer and leave it on the stove a little too long. Second, more balsamic deglazes all those tasty bits stuck at the bottom of the pan, and sizzles with so much butter to yield a glossy, finger-licking-great sauce. And third, finally, a splash of balsamic at the end for brightness. I know what you’re thinking: Whoa, baby, this is too much balsamic! It’s not. Each addition works its own magic, making the chicken feel all the more special, all the more tended to. Pair with a simple salad and warm loaf of bread. Or serve on top of buttered egg noodles or couscous. The beauty of this dish is its minimalism—it’ll get along with just about anything. Don’t bother with the priciest, syrupiest balsamic in this case. Any store brand that you like the taste of will do the trick.
Helpful tools for this recipe:
- Giusti Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
- Hestan Probond Stainless Steel Skillet
- Dansk Haldan Stoneware Dinnerware
Test Kitchen Notes
This balsamic chicken is part of our Big Little Recipes column, which showcases great meals with five ingredients or fewer (not counting staples like salt and pepper, butter or oil). Since this recipe is so easy, you can play around with a side or two. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Grandma Potatoes: Family-famous roasted potatoes don't need a lot of ingredients—or any measuring. Don’t skip the parboiling step (it helps season the potatoes throughout), and go heavy on the paprika and garlic powder.
Peach Salad With Anchovy Vinaigrette: A not-sweet fruit salad. Here, juicy-ripe peaches are treated to a salty, savory anchovy dressing. Garnish with lots of black pepper and call it a day. Any other stone fruit could shine here, too, from apricots to nectarines to plums.
Raw Butternut Squash With Feta, Dates & Chiles: Come fall, if you don’t feel like cooking butternut squash, don’t. Like carrots, this vegetable is beautiful raw, as crunchy as it is vibrant. Dates could be swapped out for golden raisins or dried cherries. And feta could be traded in for goat cheese or cheddar.
Salt & Vinegar Mashed Potatoes: Inspired by the potato chips, these mashed potatoes are creamy and tangy. Malt vinegar—the vinegar of choice for dousing English chips and french fries—is blissful here, but another vinegar like white wine or rice would work, too. —Food52
- Balsamic-Marinated Chicken
boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total), halved horizontally
- Balsamic Butter
(½ stick) butter, divided
balsamic, plus more for drizzling
Kosher or flaky salt, for sprinkling
- Combine the balsamic and salt with ¼ cup of cold water. Add the chicken to an airtight container or bag, then pour the balsamic brine on top, making sure all the chicken pieces are coated. Marinate for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and use paper towels to pat them dry.
- Set a large skillet over medium heat, then add 2 tablespoons of butter. When that’s melted, add the chicken. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the bottom of the chicken is golden, with some char around the edges, rotating the pan and lowering the heat if needed to avoid any burning.
- Flip the chicken and keep cooking until almost done, another 2 to 3 minutes. When you’re about 1 to 1½ minutes out from the chicken being done, add the remaining butter and balsamic to the pan. (You can transfer any thinner pieces to a plate if they’re finished before the thicker ones.) Cook until the sauce has thickened, flipping and basting the chicken as the sauce reduces.
- Transfer all the chicken to a plate, then pour the balsamic butter on top. Drizzle with more balsamic and finish with a big pinch of salt.