Using Balsamic Vinegar in Cooking; 3 Tasty Recipes
Chicken Cacciatore with Essential Ingredient Balsamic Vinegar
What Does Balsamic Vinegar Taste Like?
Balsamic vinegar has a dense, syrupy-sharp taste. It's rich in 'dark' flavors, not as acid tasting as wine or other vinegars, or as sweet as port - though like port wine it too matured in wooden casks. It's almost pungent tasting, (though stops short of musty) taking a different, richer route to the senses.
It's a flavorful ingredient for cooking meats (especially fowl and game) and vegetables - as well as a cold 'vinegar' for salads of many types. I've enjoyed using it for years, ever since living in Italy where Balsamic vinegar comes from. It's used a lot for everyday cooking here. (Modena is the name of the town, in the province of Emilia Romagna).
My article has three tasty recipes; all of them are rustic, European and quickly thrown together - so please excuse me if the timing and the measurements are approximate. Even my cooking times, though none are very far off, can be adjusted along the way. None of these recipes come out the same way twice and you can't go wrong experimenting. Cooking, once you know how, is all about being practical with the ingredients you find in the stores, in your market garden, or in your refrigerator. As long as your ingredients are fresh and you aren't heavy handed with them, a little extra virgin olive oil, a little salt, some of the hot stuff and often a little Balsamic Vinegar will make everything taste delicious.
Using balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico) in cooking the recipes here are for:
Baked beetroot and Potatoes in the Oven
Red Cabbage and Apple Cooked in the Pan
Cook Time Chicken Cacciatore
Step by Step Making this Simple Italian Dish
Ingredients for a Rustic Chicken Cacciatore
- 500 grams (18 ozs) chicken, thighs, skinned
- 3/4 springs rosemary, fresh if possible
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, cut in half
- large pinch salt
- 1/4 teaspoon chilli pepper, to taste, more is fine
- 50 grams (2 fl ozs) balsamic vinegar
- cup water, (on hand in case)
How to Make Italian 'Pollo alla Cacciatore'
- Skin and chop chicken into chunks
- Peel and cut garlic in two
- Heat the olive oil in a medium sized deep sided pan - on a high heat
- Add the garlic and the chilli when it is hot
- Stir and mix in the chicken and the rosemary twigs
- Brown the chicken (don't let the garlic burn), so adjust your heat to medium
- After about 10 minutes add the balsamic vinegar, stir
- Lower the heat and stir occasionally for about 15 minutes
- The balsamic vinegar will evaporate, leaving the olive oil but if you don't think the chicken is cooked enough, then you add the water from your cup and cook until it is reduced enough to your liking.
- Serve while hot. It's nice with potatoes done any way you like, or a bed of rice - and a crispy salad
Did you know this about aceto balsamico?
Balsamic comes from the Greek word meaning curative, restorative.
A document of the 11th century mentions balsamic vinegar
True 'vinegar' is made by reducing Trebbiano and Lambrusco grape juice.
There are three grades of Balsamic Vinegar.
1. Authentic artisan which has a DOC certificate for it in the EU - 'Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale'.
2. A commercial grade produced on an industrial scale. (I cook with this one).
3. 'Condimento' grade products which are a mixture of the two above
Cacciatore means Hunter
Using balsamic vinegar is Chicken Cacciatore makes flavorful cooking taste as easy as that, presumably because when a hunter came in for his meal he was hungry and wanted his bird cooked quickly - and taste worthy of his hours in the hedgerows hunting! Buon appetito!
I've read it's a dish that goes back several hundred years, which doesn't surprise me in the least because the ingredients, which are basic ingredients for Italian cooking, have been around that long too.
There are elaborate recipes around using broth, tomatoes, even mushrooms and I'm sure they are tasty, but to us, the above is just great. It's the one we are used to!
You could add a handful of black olives towards the end of your cooking - to turn it into dinner party fare.
Polla alla Cacciatore
Winter Vegetable Dishes Using Balsamic Vinegar
The autumn weather brings with it new cold weather root vegetables, as well as many crops of greens.
Sturdier and hearty (and good for you), usually eaten cooked, they warm and nourish our colder bodies.
I like the bright vermillion vegetables for their color (and wintry tastes), as I loved the pumpkin for its color and Halloween associations (and lemons and tomatoes for summer brightness). Oh it's just being human, but that bright scarlet on a dish is exciting and unusual - and warming on colder days.
The recipe below is for a simple winter dish Beets and Potatoes.
Tin Foil Baked Beetroot and Baked Potato Vegetable Dish
Aged Balsamic Vinegars from Modena
Baked Beets and Baked Potato
The essential ingredients here, aside from the balsamic vinegar and the extra virgin olive oil are the beets and the potatoes.
3 large baking potatoes
3 large beetroots or 6 smaller ones
3/4 tablespoons EVOO
3/5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp fine salt
Try to buy organic produce because they are better for you and also because they have stronger earth tastes.
How to make the dish:
Whilst you heat your oven to medium/low, wash and dry your potatoes. Take the tops off your beets and wash and dry them too.
Wrap them all up in tin foil.
Bake for at least an hour, (2 hours is fine also) until a knife goes through a potato like it's nothing.
Take them out of the oven and slice them into rounds, whilst they are still hot. Alternating potato with beet lay them alternating a platter (as you see here in the photo).
- Sprinkle with salt.
- Pour the extra virgin olive oil over them evenly.
- Pour over the balsamic vinegar.
You can eat this dish hot, warm or tepid. You can also sprinkle some finely chopped parsley (I like mine just vermillion and white).
It's very good eaten with other salad dishes as part of a buffet, with a cheese platter, with roast duck and strong flavored meats and also at a barbeque.
Balsamic Vinegar, Red Cabbage and Apple in the Pan
Good with Pork Chops
Red Cabbage and Red Onion
Simple Way to Make Red Cabbage
Using balsamic vinegar in cooking, there are delicious ways to preparing red cabbage and apple and I make a special one in the oven over Christmas, which takes time. If I see red cabbage around in the markets I have to get one and then, I have to make it.
For a quicker version that is really good to eat as a side to pork chops say, or sausages, this is how I make it. (The ingredients are approximate but more or less OK and it would make a vegetable dish on the side for 4/5 people). It's good served hot.
1 small red cabbage
1/2 a red onion
1 medium sized apple
1/4 teaspoon- 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoon EVOO
3 strips bacon
How to prepare it:
Wash the cabbage and slice it thinly.
Finely slice the onion.
Chop the apple (with the skin is fine).
Cut the bacon up into smallish strips.
1 cup water.
How to make the cabbage and apple dish in a pan on the top of the stove:
- In a medium sized pan, heat the olive oil.
- Cook the bacon in it and add the onions before the bacon is too crispy.
- Take the bacon out and hold it to add later on.
- Add the cabbage when the onions are transparent and salt and add the water. Cook for about 5-10 minutes on highish heat.
- Add the apple and adjust the water level so it's not too dry. (A little water at the bottom of the pan is fine).
- Add the balsamic vinegar and stir
- On a slow heat, cook for about half an hour, until the cabbage is very tender and there's not much liquid left, though it isn't dry either. It might take 40 minutes.
- Add the bacon. Stir. Leave for about 5 minutes with the heat off.
© 2012 Penelope Hart