Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chicken Caprese

First, do you know what "caprese" refers to?  Honestly, there was that point in my life, not so very long ago when I couldn't even pronounce the word...was embarassed to even attempt to say it to the waiter because I knew I was blundering it. Foodgeeks.com (gotcha again...betcha didn't know there was such a site!) defines "caprese" as: Caprese... is an Italian specialty that is a simple dish designed to feature its three primary ingredients: Tomatoes, basil and mozzerella cheese. The preferred mozzerella is made from the milk of the water buffalo. 

Now I know "caprese", love all things "caprese", and I can hardly wait for the end of summer when the basil is fresh and the tomatoes are overflowing the gardens and farmers markets so I can make a caprese salad.

One day last week, I had that abundance of basil and wanted to do something with it, so I combined a caprese salad with grilled chicken...and the result is simply end-of-summer-time wonderful. Well, my serving was without the cheese, but the rest of the family loved the Chicken Caprese.  If any readers have found a good dairy-free substitute for mozzerella, please comment and share with me. I haven't found a substitute that is worth using.

Here's the easiest chicken you'll ever grill:

Prep:   15 minutes active; 30 minute marinade
Cook: 15 minutes


4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/ 2 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

12-16 fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
2-3 heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
8-12  thick slices of fresh mozzerella cheeses

First, butterfly chicken breasts which is much simpler than you think.  Just put breasts on a cutting board, smooth sides down, with the pointed ends facing you. (Kinda like a mamogram!) Starting on one long side, cut breasts almost in half horizontally (stop about 1/2 inch before reaching the opposite side).

Sprinkle each piece all over with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate, and coat both sides with garlic, balsamic vinegar and oil. Let stand 30 minutes.

Heat a grill until medium-hot. Place 2-4 basil leaves on the bottom half of each opened chicken breast; top each with 2-3 slices tomato, then 2-3 slices of mozzerella. Fold over other half of chicken breast, and secure with 2-3 toothpicks.

 Here is the no-cheese breast, unfolded, and the cheese topped breast already fastened with toothpicks.

Grill chicken breasts, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes. Place on a clean serving platter; garnish with basil. If desired, remove toothpicks before serving.

Use any leftover tomatoe slices, basil and mozzerella to make caprese salad. Garnish salad with a little oil, and a few kalamata olives. 

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