Ideal age: 1+, adults
- 8-10 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
- 2 whole garlic cloves, minced
- salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- fresh or dried basil (a few fresh leaves, diced or 1/2 t. dried) OR
- fresh or dried thyme (three or four stalks of fresh leaves [remove from stalk], or 1/2 t. dried)
After trimming fat and rinsing chicken breasts in cold water, place in large zip-enclosure bag. Add remaining ingredients and seal bag, releasing any air. Place bag on countertop and work marinade and spices around until all pieces are thoroughly coated. I also pound each piece with a mallot (outside of bag) to ensure an even thickness throughout (this helps them cook more evenly later).
Marinate mixture in refrigerator for an hour or more – up to 12 hours.
In oven: place pieces evenly in flat casserole dish and pour any remaining marinade over chicken. Bake for about 30 minutes on 350 degrees.
If grilling, place each piece on medium grill and turn once during cooking. Grill cook times will vary, so use thermometer to determine when it is done (when internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F).
There are numerous ways this chicken can be used throughout the week. I normally go through the chicken in a little under a week, but if you make more than you can eat, it also freezes nicely. I freeze the breasts in one-meal portion sizes for easy thawing when I need it.
1) This chicken is great by itself (especially the day it is cooked), served with steamed veggies of your choice, a small salad and some mashed potatoes or a whole grain roll.
2) Refridgerated leftover pieces warm nicely in the oven and taste great dressed up. Using a knife, split each breast horizontally (known as butterflying) so it looks like this…
Place chicken breasts in a large casserole dish so the insides are facing up. On one half of each breast, spread 1 oz chevre goat cheese and top with one fresh basil leaf. Or, top with a nice bruschetta followed with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Fold the empty side of the chicken breast over the dressed half to simulate a stuffed chicken effect.
Bake the casserole dish in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until warmed through (remember, the chicken is already cooked).
3) Slice each cold chicken breast and top a dinner-sized salad. My favorite includes: fresh romaine lettuce, chopped roma tomatoes, chopped cucumber, diced red onion and feta cheese. I normally toss with a homemade delicious balsamic dressing. Also works well in a Caesar Salad!
4) Use leftover meat to make a grilled, baked or fresh sandwich. Slice each refrigerated breast into thin pieces.
In a large skillet, sautée 1/2 c onion. Add 1/2 c mushrooms (optional) when onions begin to turn translucent. When mushrooms are sautéed through, add chicken slices (I count a 1/2 breast per sandwich) and stir until warmed through. Fill hoagie rolls with chicken/onion mixture. Top with a slice of provolone cheese. Broil in oven until cheese bubbles and turns brown. When I’m feeling less healthy, I add a little mayonnaise to the sandwich. Optional: top with fresh lettuce and tomato after broiling.
I can adapt any of these recipes for my young son by chopping the chicken into small, bite-size pieces and serving with a steamed vegetable and a grain. He loves the chicken by itself ! It is one item he isn’t picky about eating several times per week.
Please share your own favorite meals using a basic baked chicken breast in the comments section!