How Not to Cook Chicken. Ever.
Hubpages is a great spur to culinary creativity. Hubbers post new dishes daily. Discussions in Comments produce an ongoing cycle of variation and innovation, leading to tastier and more delicious recipes.
Unfortunately, where there's opportunity for extraordinary success, there's also opportunity for extraordinary failure. Chicken-Mozarella-Vinaigrette is one of these.
The plated result looks sort of tasty, and the tomato salad topping was delicious. The chicken tasted like licking the cap of a vinegar bottle - lots of vinegar, not horrible but vaguely unpleasant. The leftover liquid (dare I say sauce) may have been useful for salsa or flavoring other dishes, but it wasn't good eatin'. The mozzarella was tasty - what mozzarella isn't? But the other flavors overwhelmed it. It was a meal-saving consolation prize; thank the heavens for melted cheese.
In short, this recipe had an auspicious beginning and an almost inedible end. May this comedy of errors guide others to more successful culinary ventures.
The Birth of Chicken-Mozzarella-Vinaigrette
Hubpages' June Recipe Contest has already provided a number of excellent recipes complete with instructions and gorgeous photos of mouth-watering results. From Tomato Soup Cake to Petit Fours, Hubbers are pumping out recipes I can't wait to try.
Chicken-Mozzarella-Vinaigrette is a combination of two amazing recipes. After all, if they're great alone, they should be even better together, right? And simple dishes don't really need recipes, do they? Ingredients are more suggestion than recommendation, right? Few things could be more wrong.
- Macrohde's Tomato Basil Salad is a great recipe. Made with fresh basil, ripe tomatoes, crisp onions and a mixture of balsamic and red wine vinegars, it's like salsa, but better!
- Peggy's Chicken Prosciutto Mozarella with Italian Flair is an equally delicious choice. Three ingredients (Chicken, Mozzarella and Prosciutto) and 30 minutes for a gourmet Italian meal.
A quick trip to the grocery store provided tomatoes, a basil plant and two vinegars for the salad. I forgot the onions completely.
The Chicken Prosciutto Mozzarella was more problematic. Mozzarella medallions were easy to find, but there were no regular boneless skinless chicken breasts, only Kosher chicken breast cutlets. They were also out of prosciutto.
I considered substituting pancetta, but opted for Italian-Mexican flair -- topping the stuffed chicken with tomato salad to lock in moisture and infuse flavor during cooking.
- 3 Kosher chicken cutlets
- 6 Mozzarella medallions
- 1 handful fresh Basil leaves
- 6 Roma tomatoes
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- Chop tomatoes and basil. Mix with vinegars and refrigerate overnight.
- Slice cutlets lengthwise and insert 2-3 mozzarella medallions.
- Place stuffed cutlets in baking dish and top with tomato basil salad.
- Pour remaining vinegar over chicken (this is where things began to go wrong.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes... bake for another 30 minutes... bake for another 30 minutes...
- Turn oven off and read a book. Hope chicken finally finishes cooking.
What Went Wrong?
By all accounts, this should have been a decent recipe. Lots of online recipes are pretty much chicken baked in vinegar - Chicken baked in vinegar sauce, Chicken with Red Wine Vinegar, and numerous other recipes from Epicurious.com and AllRecipes.com.
The key to these recipes is cooking the vinegar - either reducing it on the stovetop, or baking it in a shallow pan so that much of the liquid evaporates.
- Add less vinegar. This would reduce the final tartness pucker factor and greatly improve the flavor.
- Add fewer tomatoes. This would reduce cooking time, and might allow some vinegar to evaporate in the oven.
- Add tomato sauce. Tomato sauce might balance the tartness of the vinegar and eliminate the not-very-delicious acidity.
- Add spices. Salt, pepper or something more exotic might have balanced the vinegar and improved the flavor.