I’m new to the game when it comes to using balsamic vinegar in dishes. I always liked balsamic vinaigrettes, so I figured that at some point I would end up trying it at home. The only problem was remembering to pick it up. I’m sure those who shop for themselves or their families can sympathize when I say that if it isn’t something I pick up regularly, I don’t usually remember it. But recently where when passing down the vinegar aisle, I bolted to a stop and finally picked a bottle up.
At first, I was sort of puzzled about what to do with it. I used the vinegar mainly for salad dressings but not for much else. Vinegar can be a bit daunting at first, flavor-wise. With white and red and even cider vinegars, if you use too much it can be overpowering. With balsamic vinegar it’s different, and it takes some getting used to.
I like pairing balsamic with duller flavored meats such as chicken or pork. They need lots of flavor, and this vinegar lends itself to that. I’ve toyed around with different herbs and spices to mix into the vinegar to make a marinade of sorts, and I finally got it down to something that’s pretty delicious. But as with most marinades, things can be added or subtracted according to individual taste. Balsamic vinegar doesn’t have to be used just for savory dishes, either. Italian cooks reduce the vinegar down into a thick glaze or sauce and spoon it over vanilla ice cream. When balsamic vinegar cooks down, it becomes caramelized, lightly sweet and completely finger-licking delicious. I haven’t tried it, but I assume the vinegar gets even sweeter than it naturally is, so it’s definitely on my list.
But until then, I’m content with its natural sweet-and-sour taste paired with spices and a piece of chicken.
Balsamic marinade and sauce
For this marinade I used all dried herbs, but fresh herbs are available, use them. If you haven’t heard of Herbs de Provence, it is a mixture of thyme, rosemary, marjoram and lavender together. You can usually find it in the spice section the grocery store. It’s a nice herb to throw into things or put on chicken. This marinade would also make a good salad dressing or side sauce.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dill
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1 tablespoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
3 garlic gloves, peeled
salt and pepper to taste
Place dried herbs into a blender along with the three cloves of garlic and olive oil. Blend until smooth.
Add balsamic vinegar and mix until smooth.
Divide the marinade in half. Add one half to the plastic bag with the meat of your choice and marinate for one hour.
Once meat is cooking, you can use the reserved half of the marinade to brush onto the meat for extra flavor.