Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Picnicking Season

I personally believe that picnicking knows no season, although I know most people prefer to picnic in the warmer weather. If you fall into this category picnic season is finally here. The first step is to dig out your picnic basket and make sure it's stocked with all the basics so you can just grab it and go when the spirit, and the weather suits you.

Here is one of my all-time favorite main dishes from Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket. It's simple to prepare, uses basic ingredients, and travels well.

Glastonbury Gourmet's Chicken Caprese
(Courtesy of Les Harris - Executive Chef @ Glastonbury Gourmet)

Chicken Breasts (sliced thin)
Eggs, Milk
Fresh Tomato
Fresh Ovoline Mozzarella (4 oz. balls)
Balsamic Vinegar (for reduction)
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Fresh Basil

- Wash off chicken breasts and pat dry with a clean towel.
- Place Balsamic Vinegar in a heavy bottom sauce pan and begin reducing to a thin syrup consistency.
- Prepare a flat bottom container for flour. Season four lightly with salt & Pepper. Place chicken into flour (both sides) and tap excess flour off the chicken breasts.
- Place the above chicken breasts in an egg wash (beaten eggs with milk.) Remove when coated thoroughly and place back into flour (the egg wash acts as a glue.) Lightly coat each side of chicken with the flour and tap off excess again.
- Heat up saute pan with olive oil and butter. Place chicken into hot pan and saute both sides until golden brown. Remove from pan and place into a preheated oven (325 degrees) for approximately 7 to 10 minutes (time depends on thickness of chicken.) The chicken should be cooked completely.
- Place cooked chicken on plate. Slice your tomato and ovoline mozzarella and layer them down the chicken sideways. Add a fresh leaf of basil in between the tomato and ovoline. Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.
- Drizzle the balsamic vinegar reduction over the above finished chicken and enjoy!
- Total time from start to finish is 20 to 30 minutes.

Note from Jan: I've enjoyed this dish warm by timing it to come out of the oven right before leaving for the picnic. Wrap well, then cover with layers of newspaper to help hold in the heat and eat within 2 hours. I also enjoy making ahead and refrigerating until leaving for my picnic. In either case, if it is convenient you can wrap the tomato, mozzarella, and Balsamic vinegar separately and assemble at the picnic site.