Friday, June 6, 2008

Pan-Glazed Chicken with Basil

Looking for quick, easy, and healthy? Look no further than the Weight Watchers 5 Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook. Weight Watcher's emphasis on portion control means you can cook the recipe for the desired number of persons (and this recipe is easy to scale up or down depending on your need), and as long as your eating the recommended serving, there's no way you can overdo it. Even if you eat two servings, you're still in pretty good shape. I've tried a few recipes out of this book, and they are all easy (although 15 minutes is a stretch if you're a slow, take-your-time to make sure everything is perfect cook - like me) but this one is my favorite so far. It's amazing how the right combination of ingredients can provide amazing flavor, and this recipe marries balsamic vinegar, honey and basil with outstanding results. The only other things you need are some boneless, skinless, chicken parts, some salt and pepper, and a little olive oil.

Start with four boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each (this is pretty small, so you might have to slice 2 large breast pieces in half). I'm sure boneless thighs would be excellent as well, if you don't mind the dark meat, a few extra calories, and a lot more flavor.

I've have to digress a bit here and relate a quick story. Last week when I was shopping for this recipe, I was contemplating my chicken purchase in the store. There was a package of organic boneless, skinless breasts which was a little over 1 1/2 pounds for about $8 and then right next to it there was a 5 lb organic roaster for roughly the same price. Now, the week before when I made barbecued chicken, I bought the parts already cut up to save time since I was making a whole bunch of other stuff (and I felt sufficiently guilty for doing so), but this time I bought the whole bird (much more economical and much less wasteful). I used the breasts to make the pan-glazed chicken, froze the legs and thighs for later use, made 2 quarts of stock from the carcass, and was able to pick enough meat off the boiled carcass to make 3 days worth of chicken salad for my daughter. You hear a lot these days about food prices, and everybody should be concerned about the underlying causes of these problems, but it is possible to get a lot more for your money (and to help the environment too) if you're willing to do a little extra work, and cutting up a whole chicken really isn't THAT hard. Just do it like this:

Okay, digression over (I could go on for another hundred pages about what we're doing to the environment for the sake of "convenience," but I won't - I will show you this though). So where was I? Oh yes, the chicken. In addition to your chicken, you'll need to chop some fresh basil, and mix together the balsamic vinegar and honey in a small bowl.

Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Sprinkle the chicken on one side with a little salt and pepper. When the oil is good and hot, it should be shimmering, but not smoking, add the chicken pieces placing the side you salted down in the pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the other side of the chicken.

Cook the chicken without moving it for a few minutes, until it begins to become nice and golden brown. Turn the chicken over and cook for a few more minutes. Add the vinegar/honey mixture and the basil, stir it around, and cook for 1 minute, turning the chicken once to coat it in the glaze.

Serve the chicken with some of the glaze drizzled over the top. This chicken goes great over rice, as the glaze mingles nicely with the rice and imparts it's deliciously sweet yet tangy flavor. Bu I'd bet you can serve this chicken with any starch/vegetable combo you can imagine, and you don't really have to worry about flavoring the sides beyond a little seasoning, because the pan glaze from the chicken will do the work for you. This time I served it with some oven-roasted potatoes and some plain steamed broccoli, and it was quite a hit. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go cut up another chicken, because I'm making these for dinner.

Pan-Glazed Chicken with Basil (adapted from Weight Watchers 5 Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook)
20 to 30 minutes - makes 4 servings for a light dinner or 2 servings if you're really hungry
  • About 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 4 pieces about 6 ounces each
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  1. Pat your chicken pieces dry (slice them in half if they are really thick) and place them on a plate
  2. Combine the honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stir well to dissolve the honey
  3. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat
  4. Sprinkle the top side of the chicken with salt and pepper
  5. When the oil is hot, place the chicken in the pan salted-side down, sprinkle the other side with salt and pepper
  6. Cook without moving for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is nice and golden brown*
  7. Turn the chicken and cook for 5 additional minutes*
  8. Add the honey/vinegar mixture to the pan along with the basil, stir to combine all ingredients
  9. Cook for 1 minute, turning the chicken to coat it in the glaze
  10. Serve the chicken immediately drizzled with extra glaze
*The cooking time in this recipe is an estimate based on boneless breast pieces about 1/2 to 3/4 inches in thickness and may need to be adjusted for slightly thinner or thicker cuts

1 comment:

EAT! said...

I have seen similar recipes but not with basil. I would love that additional with all the basil growing in my garden.