Balsamic Chicken with Pickled Beets

This is Marie, contributing a recipe for balsamic chicken that did its very best to avoid being presented to you. Seriously, I lost this recipe at least three times, which is silly because I ought to have been able to remember it after one or two readings. So here it is, before the commentary with my alterations in parentheses, just in case:

1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil (I used some Italian herb puree)
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp dried onion (I used some minced fresh instead)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp olive oil (who actually measures this? It’s good fat, I just slop some in)
1/2 cup good balsamic vinegar
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, about 24 oz total (I used some of each)
sprinkle of parsley or cilantro, if desired

Combine the dry ingredients and rub them on the chicken. Pour olive oil and garlic on the bottom of the crock pot (I added the diced onion there too). Place chicken on top. Pour balsamic over the chicken. cover and cook on high for 4 hours. garnish with cilantro or parsley, if desired.

(This recipe has been posted and reposted on Facebook and Pinterest dozens of times without credit to the original source. For what it’s worth, the earliest that we can trace it is to Epicurious.com.)

This is, clearly, a very simple and quick recipe, and there is really no skill whatsoever involved. It’s a great recipe for your teen to use on their night to cook dinner, as the meat prep takes 2 minutes and the rest of the ingredients take longer to get down off the shelf than to put together. Except for the hunt for the ever-escaping recipe, that is. However, I have solved that for you, as you can always come back here after your printout has vanished! The chicken cooked down so tender that knives were in no way needed; the dark meat, especially, was so flaky that I had to use a spoon to get it onto the plates! I served it with some spinach couscous, homemade pickled beets and a few tomatoes. It would go with rice too, or you could sprinkle some Parmesan over them; they would also go well with potatoes, or anything else you can use to soak up the vinegar mixture. Yum.

And seriously, if you like pickled beets, you need to learn how to can your own. I’m feeling guilty about how easy that chicken was so here’s a bonus. It’s one of the easiest things to can. Adapted from here, except I didn’t put onions into mine: http://www.pickyourown.org/pickledbeets.htm

3-4 large beets or 6-8 medium
4 cups white vinegar (or 3 cups white and 1 apple cider)
2 cups sugar (this helps as a preservative so check low-sugar recipes before changing this)
2 cups water
1.5 tsp kosher (or non-iodized) salt
cloves, allspice, cinnamon, etc. if desired, in a gauze bag or teabag – so they can be removed and don’t make the mixture cloudy. I pass on that.

Put your clean canning jars into the canner and bring to a boil while cooking the beets – this will sterilize and also equalize the temps. Alternately, dry heat in the oven.

Cook the beets until they are at least soft enough to slide off a fork when you try to pick them up, but not dissolving – to your taste. If your beets are really big cook them cut in halves or quarters. Dunk the hot beets into a bowl of water and ice, and peel off the skins, dice to your preferred size. While the beets are cooking, mix the sugar, water and vinegar and heat until the sugar dissolves. Simmer very gently with the spices if you are using them, and remove the bag before pouring the vinegar mixture over the beets. Put your hot clean jars onto a wooden or plastic cutting board and drop in the diced beets. Fill each jarful with the vinegar mixture, leaving generous headspace, about 1/2 inch. Wipe rims if needed and put on lids and bands, then put the jars into the canner. Bring it back to a boil, boil for 30 minutes, and then turn off the heat. Wait 10 minutes and pull out the jars onto your cutting board again, leaving them undisturbed to cool. Check that your lids have popped and if any didn’t, put that jar into the fridge for quick use. Suggestion – place them in a spot where your morning sun will shine on them in the morning before you remove the bands and stick the jars in the pantry, as sunlight on a jar of beets is one of the most beautiful colors there is.


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