Verdict: This recipe creates chicken that is extremely moist and bursting with the complex flavours of the sweet soya sauce and balsamic vinegar. An easy and elegant weeknight dinner.
This original recipe came together from my sister’s obsession with balsamic glazed asparagus and our obsession with the Singaporean instant fried noodles brand called Mi Goreng. These instant noodles make the perfect late night snack and with a little bit of effort, the perfect quick dinner. In an effort to make these instant noodles healthier (we know, it’s a stretch), we investigated what goes into real Singaporean noodles and how best to incorporate fresh vegetables into the dish. It turns out, the secret ingredient is sweet soya sauce. It is sweeter than regular soya sauce and significantly thicker, like a reduced balsamic vinegar, with some varieties mirroring the viscosity and appearance of molasses.
I decided to use sweet soya sauce to create a recipe for balsamic glazed chicken. The foil packets cooking method ensures the chicken will be cooked to tender perfection.
This is the kind of dish that immediately makes it into your cooking rotation. The flavours are complex and full bodied, the chicken tender and moist. The shallots and sweet soya sauce impart sweetness, while the twang from balsamic vinegar keeps the sweetness from being overpowering. The sauce is so incredible on rice, this will be your new chicken and rice dish standard.
The toughest ingredient to find will be the sweet soya sauce, found at Asian supermarkets or the ethnic aisle of your grocery store. We’ve tried three to four different brands and found the Lee Kum Kee Sweet Soy Sauce to be the best performer: mellow kind of sweetness with right consistency: thicker than regular soya sauce but not as thick as honey or molasses. Regardless of the brand you find, please ensure you use sweet soya sauce. I’ve tried this with regular soya sauce and the flavour combination simply did not work; the resulting sauce was too tart.
Balsamic Foil Packed Chicken
Serves 4 | Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 30 minutes
Note 1: If you cannot find shallots (the smaller, purple and mellower cousin to onions), substitute red or a sweeter variety of onion like Vidalia.
Note 2: similar results may be achieved by putting the chicken pieces in casserole dish that allows them to be spaced about 1 inch apart from one another. Cover the top of the casserole tightly with aluminum foil. This creates more of a poaching so the chicken will retract in size and be marginally less moist. Saves time but the meat texture may be drier on the edges. The choice is yours!
Note 3: Review how to fold foil food packets post for pictures.
- 2 tbs butter
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 shallots (about ¼ cup), finely chopped
- 4 tbs Balsamic Vinegar (to taste)
- 6 tbs Sweet soya sauce
- 1 tbs water *if your sweet soya sauce is extra thick (molasses consistency)
- 4 Large Chicken Breasts all pieces scored across top of breast
- about 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp sea salt) and a lot of freshly ground black pepper
- aluminum foil, 4 X 15” sheets
1. Over medium-low heat, melt butter in small saucepan. Add garlic and shallots and let them sweat in the butter until translucent (you don’t want them to brown), about 10 minutes. Stir every few minutes.
2. Add balsamic vinegar and soya sauce, heat through for about 2 minutes.
Note: Add 1 tablespoon of water if your sweet soya sauce is molasses thick. Set aside.
1. Preheat oven 425 F. Score each piece of chicken (making four to five 1.5” incisions along the grain, about ¼” deep – like this picture). This allows for faster cooking and lessens the risks of undercooked chicken. Wash hands.
2. Use tongs to place raw chicken in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and cracked pepper. Mix.
3. Use tongs to place chicken in the center of about 15″ tin foil. Top with Balsamic Sauce.
4. Bring up the foil at its sides and roll down towards center, stopping 1” before you reach the meat – this leaves room for heat circulation. Fold the foil ends toward center to seal pack.
5. Bake for 25 – 30 min.
Note: Add about 5 extra minutes for each additional breast (ie when I used 6 chicken breasts, cooking time was 30-35 min)
6. Take out of oven and poke slots in each bag and let cool for about 5 minutes. Check one package to ensure the chicken has been cooked through – no longer pink in the middle.
Serve with bacon wrapped asparagus and white rice. (I prefer long grain white rice because it soaks up the sauce so nicely.)