Chicken breasts with balsamic sauce, mushrooms, and fried cornichon topping.

Chicken breasts with balsamic sauce, mushrooms, and fried cornichon topping. Credit: Marge Perry

Remember balsamic chicken? It was everywhere in the '80s, until it just sort of fizzled out of fashion.

This is my plea to revive the formerly beloved dish. The sweet tang of balsamic sauce is as appealing as ever. I’ve given it an update by adding a topping with the sharp, briny bite of pan-fried cornichons (you can substitute capers if you prefer), basil and bright lemon zest. The pickle topping brings the balsamic sauce to a whole new level. The quartered mushrooms add umami — a deep, meaty savory-ness — to the dish.

This recipe can be easily doubled.

Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms and Fried Cornichon Topping

1 tablespoon flour

¾ teaspoon salt, divided

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 (6-ounce) boneless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 to 5 cornichons, chopped

¼ cup basil leaves, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon lemon zest

6 ounces mushrooms, quartered

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

½ cup unsalted chicken broth

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon of butter

1. Combine the flour, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, smoked paprika and black pepper on a plate. Dredge the chicken breasts in the mixture.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Add the cornichons and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl with a slotted spoon. Allow to cool, and combine with the basil and lemon zest.

3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat over medium high. Add the chicken breasts smooth side down and cook until golden brown, 4 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook another 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic around the chicken and cook another 3 minutes. Add the balsamic, broth and ¼ teaspoon salt, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan and cook until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

4. Increase the heat under the skillet and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the honey and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and boil until the mixture coats a spoon, about 3 minutes. Swirl in the butter until melted and remove from the heat. Return the chicken to the skillet and turn it once to completely coat in the sauce.

5. Plate the chicken, spooning the pan sauce and mushrooms on and around it and sprinkle the chicken with the cornichon mixture.


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