Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chicken Caprése Wraps with Herb Balsamic Reduction

Yummy yum yum.
Tonight is the last official night of Summer (apparently fall begins at the autumnal solstice at 11:09pm, specific enough for you?), so I figured I better start using up the bunches of basil growing in my herb garden (the stuff grows like a weed!) and I should enjoy tomatoes while they still taste like, well, tomato.

So when you put basil & tomato together, you get a insalata Caprése, meaning a salad in the style of Capri, Italy, where these ingredients are abundant and loved by the locals. Typically they will just add some S&P and EVOO, but I'm going to put a party dress on this Caprése wrap tonight, while taking some labor saving short-cuts at the same time.

  • 1 Grocery Store Rotisserie Chicken 
  • 1 Package of wraps of your choice (I had tortillas in the fridge, so that's what I'm using)
  • 2 T store bought pesto (I like "Contadina" brand when I don't have time to make it myself, found in the refrigerated section)
  • 1 Ball of Fresh Mozzarella, sliced.
  • Handful of Fresh Basil
  • 1 cup rough chopped Tomatoes (the grape tomatoes at the market looked and smelled great today, and they were local!)
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Stems Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 T Butter
  • EVOO
  • S&P
Start by making the reduction.  Over medium heat, sauté the shallot in some butter for about 2 minutes.  Then, add the minced garlic and some S&P.  Continue to cook until the onion is translucent, do not brown it.  Then, add the balsamic vinegar and your fresh thyme stems. Bring the mixture up to a gentle boil, and let it boil until it reduces to a syrupy consistency. You can check this by dipping the back of a teaspoon into the mixture, and then wiping your finger across the center of it - if the liquid holds the line, then it's thick enough and is done. Remove from heat, pull out the thyme stems (many of the leaves will have fallen off, that's fine, just get the twiggy parts out), and set aside. You now have a deliciously sweet and flavorful special sauce.

Tip - do not put your face over the vinegar while it is reducing, or you will get a nasty whiff of eye stinging, nose burning evaporating vinegar.

Above, clockwise: Shallots & Garlic sautéing, the mixture once vinegar is added, and the spoon passing the finger wipe test. 

All ready to wrap up!
While the vinegar is reducing, make your chicken salad.  Take the breasts of your rotisserie chicken, remove the skin, chop into bite size pieces and put in a mixing bowl.  Next, take your tomatoes and rough chop them. I used grape tomatoes so I just halved them.  Then, do a chiffonade of your basil.  (Learn what a chiffonade is by clicking here).  Add these ingredients to the mixing bowl.  Then, add 2 heaping Tablespoons of pesto  to the bowl, along with some S&P and a drizzle of EVOO.  If you want to kick it up a notch, you could add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes at this time.  Mix well, and set aside.

Now it's time to make your wraps!  Heat up the tortillas either in the oven wrapped in foil, or in the microwave wrapped in damp paper towels.  Take your tortilla, spread some of the reduction along the middle of it, then make a line of the sliced fresh mozzarella. Top with some scoops of the chicken salad, and then drizzle with the reduction.  Roll it up, slice it in half, and enjoy!

If you're cutting carbs, this would also be great as a salad on its own - in that case, I would cube up the mozarella and mix some of the reduction right into the salad.

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