Cherry Balsamic Chicken

Cherries have always been one of my favorite fruits. And while I do love maraschino cherries and their super-sweetness, nothing cherry "flavored" ever seems to taste like cherry. I mean, who thinks cherry flavored cough syrup tastes legit? It's downright gross. I even remember having a minor surgery as a kid, and since I loved the taste so much, I requested a cherry-flavored anesthetic gas, excited to taste it. The regret hit me faster than the sleepiness, and I recall thinking, "I should have picked orange..." just before dozing off. Fake cherry flavors just don't cut it (though Cherry Coke is still good).



I still remember my first experience with a black cherry. We were visiting my mother's Aunt and Uncle up in Pennsylvania and they had their very own cherry tree in the backyard. The cherries were much larger than the ones you find in a jar, and SO juicy and flavorful.

Let's be real - I am in love with balsamic vinegar. I made this incredible Balsamic Chicken (it worked great in the barbecue style sauce) a while back and have even thrown it in the crock pot for a delightful, easy meal. Cooked down into a thick sauce makes balsamic vinegar thick and out of this world. So let's get to it. I took about 9-10 cherries and cut them in half and removed the pits. I set them in a large skillet and poured in some baslamic vinegar and a bit of brown sugar. On the side, I started boiling some pasta.


I let the cherries simmer for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat, then poured them in a bowl. Taking a good photo of cherries in a dark liquid was not really working for me, so this one is sans photo. I then tossed the chicken into the same pan and lightly coated each side with some of the balsamic sauce from the cherries. I cooked the chicken breasts about 7-8 minutes per side, making sure it was done in the middle before removing them from the heat.


And there we have it, cherry balsamic chicken served on a bed of bowtie pasta. I added a cute little fresh cherry to the top - can you see the difference cooking the sauce down made to the size of them?


First off, can I just take a moment to comment on the fact that the photo of this finished dish reminds of a 50's style ice cream shop? That light blue plate with the cherry on top...just perfect. But onto the food. I have seen fruit-infused balsamic glazes in the past, and I am not wholeheartedly convinced that they exist for a very important reason...because they are fantastic. The maltiness of the vinegar combined with the sweetness of the cherries melded together to make a sauce that was savory and slightly sweet. I was very happy with the pasta combination, though I am certain a potato dish would have fit in just as well. The balsamic vinegar obsession will surely continue after this one. Sometimes tells me blueberries or raspberries would be great in the same fashion...

Cherry Balsamic Chicken Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup balsamic vinegar
10 pitted cherries
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 chicken breasts

Instructions:

Slice cherries in half and add to saucepan. Pour in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, then heat to medium. Simmer sauce 10-15 minutes, then remove from heat.  Pour into a heat-proof bowl and return pan to heat. Brush some sauce on chicken and cook 7-10 minutes on each side until cooked throughout. Serve over pasta.

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