February 26, 1997 in Food

Liven Up Your Meals With Addition Of Balsamic Vinegar

Laura Carnie The Spokesman-Revie
 

Dear Laura: I received a large bottle of balsamic vinegar for Christmas and want to make good use of it. I’m trying to expand my balsamic vinegar recipe collection beyond salad dressings. So far, I have found one recipe that used balsamic vinegar in a sauce for steak. Thank you for any additions you can make to my collection. - Esther, Spokane

Dear Esther: The intense, sweet-tart flavor of balsamic vinegar has a number of uses as a flavoring agent similar to lemon juice, sugar, salt or pepper. Let your creativity reign. Add small amounts to enliven sauces, stews, meat, fish and vegetable dishes.

Good-quality, aged balsamic vinegar is much smoother and sweeter than less expensive varieties. In “The New Basics Cookbook,” Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins write that the inhabitants of Modena, the Italian town that’s home to true balsamic vinegar, “often drink it as an after-dinner digestif.” The authors add that they’re “passionate about using it in a fresh-fruit dessert - sprinkled on raspberries, peaches, strawberries, or melon with a little cracked black pepper or sugar.”

The following recipes bring a touch of spring to brighten late-winter dinners. The first is adapted from “The New Basics Cookbook,” the second from Tom Ney’s “The Health-Lover’s Guide to Super Seafood.”

Chicken Saute With Asparagus and Balsamic Splash

Sweet, aged balsamic vinegar forms a shiny syrup sauce that holds this dish together.

2 (2-1/2 to 3-pound) chickens, quartered

2 cups good-quality balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves

3 tablespoons olive or other vegetable oil

3 sprigs fresh thyme

3 pounds asparagus

Additional balsamic vinegar, optional

Rinse chicken well, pat dry and place in a baking dish. Cover chicken with 2 cups balsamic vinegar. Scatter thyme leaves over the chicken; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Remove chicken from marinade; pat pieces dry. Strain the marinade and return to refrigerator until needed.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a deep heavy skillet and saute the chicken, in batches, over medium heat until lightly colored on each side, about 5 minutes. (Be careful; the marinated chicken burns easily and tends to splatter when placed in the pan.)

Remove chicken and pour off fat, then add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Return dark-meat pieces to the skillet; cover and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Turn dark-meat pieces over, add the white-meat pieces (wings and breasts) and the sprigs of fresh thyme. Cover; and continue to cook until the juices run clear when meat is pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Snap off and discard the tough lower stems of the asparagus. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water until tender-crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and set aside.

When done, remove chicken from skillet. Cover to keep warm, then set aside. Spoon excess fat from skillet and return it to the heat. Add reserved marinade and the asparagus. Heat through, 1 to 2 minutes, spooning marinade over asparagus to coat thoroughly.

Transfer asparagus to heated serving plates or platter; keep warm. Continue boiling the marinade down until it reduces to a shiny syrup that coats the back of a spoon.

To serve, arrange chicken pieces next to the asparagus. Coat the chicken with sauce and dribble several drops of additional balsamic vinegar over asparagus, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings.

Broiled Marinated Tuna Steak With Thousand Island Sauce

Halibut, shark or swordfish steaks may also be used in this recipe.

1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1-1/4 pounds tuna steak, skin and dark meat removed

1 cup Thousand Island Sauce (recipe follows)

Red onion rings, optional garnish

Mix together oil and vinegar in a shallow baking dish. Cut fish steak into 4 equal pieces; place in marinade, turning to coat all sides. Cover and refrigerate for up to, but not longer than, 1 hour.

Arrange on a flat broiling pan and broil no more than 4 inches from the heat for 6 to 8 minutes. Do not turn. (If desired, marinated steaks may be grilled 4 minutes on first side and 2 to 3 minutes on second side.)

Place cooked steaks on warm serving plates. If desired, garnish with red onion rings. Serve with Thousand Island Sauce.

Yield: 4 servings (225 calories each).

Thousand Island Sauce

1/4 cup minced red onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1/3 cup tomato puree

1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt, drained for at least 4 hours, or nonfat sour cream

2 tablespoons reduced-calorie mayonnaise

1 hard-cooked egg, coarsely chopped

Combine onions, garlic, vinegar, honey and tomato puree in a saucepan; cook over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set aside to cool for 20 minutes. Add yogurt, mayonnaise and egg. Stir to blend and serve immediately.

Yield: 1 cup.

Dear Laura: We saw Grant’s question in your Jan. 29 column about where to find ground cherries. Each spring we have the plants come up and volunteer all over the garden area. We have to destroy a lot of the plants, but do transplant a row or two each year for making our favorite jam. For years, you could buy the seed in the seed section in packages labeled “husk tomato.” When ripe, the ground cherries turn yellow with a thin, caramel-colored, paperlike husk on them and fall off the vine. We remove the husks and freeze the ground cherries for future use. - Albert and Viola, Chattaroy

, DataTimes MEMO: Have a food question? Looking for a recipe? Laura Carnie, a certified family and consumer scientist and food consultant in Coeur d’Alene, would like to hear from you. Write to Cook’s Notebook, Features Department, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210. As many letters as possible will be answered in this column; sorry, no individual replies.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Laura Carnie The Spokesman-Review

Have a food question? Looking for a recipe? Laura Carnie, a certified family and consumer scientist and food consultant in Coeur d’Alene, would like to hear from you. Write to Cook’s Notebook, Features Department, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210. As many letters as possible will be answered in this column; sorry, no individual replies.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Laura Carnie The Spokesman-Review


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