If you follow my blog you may notice this is pretty similar to my balsamic chicken post. You would not be wrong, in fact, it was while I was making balsamic chicken for dinner and staring at the freshly picked tomatoes from the garden that the idea for this recipe came to me. Before we moved to Spokane I was really into gardening, my motto was “if I’m watering you you’re feeding me”. My garden was 30ft x 35ft with double raised garden beds, we grew almost everything, the backyard favorites like green beans, peas, zucchini, of course, tomatoes but we also had oddball things like kiwi and winter wheat.
Soon that huge garden wasn’t big enough so every year I would take more and more of the back yard, our herb garden itself was 4ft x 6ft with sage plants that came up to my hips. In the flower beds around the yard, there were strawberries, barley (for the chickens), corn, and winter squash. Then one year the backyard wasn’t enough so I did a total overhaul of the front yard and started planting rows of root veggies among the edible flowers and more herbs. I went little nuts, I was even asking my neighbors if I could plant veggies in their unused flower beds I was even thinking of starting a CSA box because I was producing so much. The boys one year even had a fresh vegetable stand instead of a lemonade stand.
I managed to get a lot of produce out of my little 1/3rd of an acre, especially with the short growing season in the PNW. Tomatoes were always the hardest for me to grow, the season would be too short to grow big beef steaks (like I used in this recipe) so I’d only grow those for my fried green tomatoes, but small and medium tomatoes did really well. But there are only so many salads you can eat, so I needed to be more creative with how is use cherry tomatoes which is what I originally developed this recipe with. My kids are obsessed with Caprese salad with a drizzle of good balsamic and lots of basil, so one time when I was making my balsamic chicken for dinner they were bugging me for Caprese salad saying that’s all they’ll eat because it was one of those “good parenting days” so if they were only going to eat Caprese salad I’ll show you little butts and put the Caprese on the chicken. And “hey Mikey I think he likes it” they ate the whole plate.
- 2 lb Chicken thighs, bone-in skin-on
- 2 large Onions, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Butter, divided
- 1/2 cup Balsamic Chicken
- 1 cup Chicken Stock
- 3 medium-sized Tomatoes, sliced
- 8 oz Mozzarella Cheese, fresh but dried
- 1/4 cup Basil, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- As Julia Child says, dry your meat. We want good color and you can't get that with wet meat.
- Season your chicken with salt and pepper and in a medium-high heated pan add a little oil and brown the chicken skin side down until golden brown. If the chicken sticks to the pan it's not that you didn't use enough oil it's that it's not ready to flip. Brown both sides and remove from pan.
- Either remove or add oil to the pan depending on how much fat was rendered from the chicken, which should be about a tablespoon. Add all the onions, seasoning with salt and stirring while the liquid in the onions is being released and scrapping up the fawn (browned bits of chicken). If there is a milky liquid around the onions and all the fawn is has released, cover the pan stirring every few minutes until the onions are tender. Once they are extremely tender remove the lid and let whatever liquid is there cook away. Once the liquid is gone add 1/2 of the butter, sugar and cook stirring until onions are a deep caramel color.
- Once the onions are caramelized turn on your fan (you'll thank me for this!) add the balsamic vinegar. cook down the balsamic until it has reduced to about 1/2 the volume and add the chicken stock and nestle the chicken skin side up back to the pan. Cover and let cook until the chicken is cooked through. Flipping the chicken once about 2/3rds of the way cooked.
- Remove chicken from the sauce taste for salt and finish with butter. This will make the sauce come together and have a velvety consistency.
- Place the chicken back into the pan top of tomatoes, and cheese and place under the broiler watching closely. DON'T LEAVE THE KITCHEN. Once the cheese is golden brown and bubbly (maybe 5 minutes) remove it from the oven and top with the basil. I serve this with risotto and plenty of balsamic sauce covering everything.
If you have a bunch of cherry tomatoes you'd like to use instead of a beefsteak, I'd add a pint of cherry tomatoes to the sauce in step 6. and let them warm up for a second before adding the chicken back in. I wouldn't cook them so long that they start to pop and release their juices into the sauce.