I came up with this recipe back when balsamic vinegar was an “it” ingredient. Chefs and food magazines did such a deep dive, making smooth brown vinaigrettes, using balsamic in marinades, reducing it as a glaze and drizzling the expensive, aged kind over cheese that it makes the recent kale-o-rama seem mild in comparison.
Even with the inevitable backlash, balsamic vinegar has remained front and center on store shelves, where you can spend $8 or $28 for a bottle of it, depending on its age and provenance. For this recipe, go with what you have on hand because it is just one part of the quick sauce.
First, you cook the tomato paste for a bit, which deepens its flavor in the same way that toasting spices in a dry skillet does. Browning it, or caramelizing it, as some cooks refer to the process, doesn’t take long, and it has become a habit for me ever since I watched chef-restaurateur Lidia Bastianich plop a dollop in the middle of a sauté pan on one of her cooking shows.
When you stir in the balsamic vinegar and broth, it may take a minute or so to fully incorporate those caramelized globs of tomato goodness. Be patient! The sauce will happen while you are breaking down the poached chicken breasts.
Speaking of poaching, if you ever have tried and failed to get the chicken cooked through this way, the technique here will serve you well.
Once the chicken’s done, you can enjoy it several ways: over zucchini noodles, between toasted halves of garlicky bread, mixed into pasta shells.
A sprinkling of fresh oregano at the end is terrific, if you happen to have some in your herb garden. In truth, this recipe really shines when you use fresh tarragon, so keep that in mind for the next time you make this chicken.