Strawberry and chicken????
You read that correctly; this is a recipe for Mango STRAWBERRY Balsamic Chicken. I know you’ve probably never considered cooking strawberries with chicken. I understand. However, before you write this off, try it!!! Seriously, you have to try it. Only then will you realize that this is a FABULOUS flavor pairing, and I’m probably a genius for coming up with the idea! Okay, maybe I’m getting carried away with myself, but this is an original idea, and I’m thrilled with how good it turned out. I’m not sure where the inspiration came from, other than I had strawberries and mangos that I needed to use up. It hit me that I had never seen strawberries in a savory dish, and I couldn’t figure out why. We use apples, peaches, plums, and citrus in main courses – why NOT strawberries!
The secret ingredient: pepper
Strawberries retain their vivid color and much of their vitamin C when cooked, so they’re as healthful as they are beautiful in this sauce. Black pepper is the secret ingredient in bringing out the flavor of strawberries; it does to them what salt does to meat. Balsamic vinegar also intensifies the sweetness of strawberries. If you are leery of this flavor combination, I urge you to give it a try. Tasting is believing. The mango adds another element of color, flavor, and texture.
The prep for this recipe is nothing more than cutting the strawberries in half and chopping the mango, onion, and garlic. I also chop the basil, but, supposedly, it is better if you tear it from a culinary textbook perspective.
I used chicken thighs for this recipe. I think they are much more flavorful and tender than chicken breast (also cheaper). However, chicken breast works just as well in this recipe. Take the chicken out of the fridge and let it come to room temp while prepping the fruit, onion/garlic, and basil. Removing the chill helps the chicken cooks faster and more evenly.
Cutting the mango
The strawberries are easy. Rinse them thoroughly, cut off the tops and slice them in half. Mangos can be a little more challenging, but neatness doesn’t count in this recipe! The mango doesn’t need peeling before you cut it open. Stand the fruit up and slice off the cheeks. Score the sections in a checkerboard pattern and push out the center to pop it out, like a porcupine. Using a sharp knife, slide down along the skin, separating the fruit from the peel. Sometimes, this works like a dream. Sometimes it looks like a massacre! Again, no stress. No one is judging the mango chunks! Just get it done.
When the fruit and veggies are ready, add a tablespoon of canola oil to a large skillet. I used my cast-iron skillet because I like its depth. However, any large skillet (including non-stick) will work fine with this recipe as the pan doesn’t go into the oven. For more info on choosing the best pan for any recipe, check out “Navigating Cookware” for hints and hacks.
Season the chicken on all sides while the oil is heating. When the oil is hot (shimmering, not smoking), add the seasoned chicken and cook for about 8 minutes on each side until the chicken is brown and the juices run clear.
Remove the chicken from the pan onto a plate while cooking the sauce. Add the onion and garlic to the hot skillet and cook for a couple of minutes.
Balsamic vinegar transforms the sauce
Add the strawberries and mango and generously season with pepper. Gently stir, as needed, until they are soft and juicy. Now is the time to transcend the fruit into another dimension with balsamic vinegar. The balsamic adds a rich, complex sweetness with a mellow tartness that explodes on the tongue with intense flavor and a delicate aroma.
Return the chicken to the party and cook for a few more minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Add the basil and gently stir until combined with the sauce.
Basic adds color and an herby flavor
The flavor and color are unique and gourmet quality! Be brave and prepare yourself for some apprehension and resistance when you serve this dish for the first time. The idea of savory cooked strawberries takes a while to gain acceptance. Serve it over rice, and after the first bite, all will surrender to these fabulous flavors and the juicy, tender chicken! Enjoy.
Serve over rice
Mango Strawberry Balsamic ChickenCourse: Main CourseCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Mango and strawberries in a balsamic sauce is an easy and unique way to elevate a one-pan chicken dinner into a spectacular summer dinner! Ready in 30 minutes and served over rice.
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 chicken thighs
Salt – season to taste
Ground black pepper – season to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ red onion, chopped
2 mangos, chopped
1lb strawberries, halved
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup torn fresh basil
Optional: cooked rice for serving
- Prep: Wash and half strawberries. Peel and chop the mango. Chop red onion and garlic. Tear or cut fresh basil.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil until hot and shimmering (not smoking). Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook until golden and no longer pink, 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
- Add garlic and red onion to skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Add strawberries and mango. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring as needed. Add the balsamic vinegar and return the chicken back into the pan. Simmer for 3 minutes, until slightly reduced. Stir in basil.
- Chicken: Skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breast can also be used
- Basil: Substitute 1½ teaspoons dried basil for 1/3 cup fresh
- Red onion: Yellow onion can also be used