Grand Marnier is a French cognac liqueur known for its distinct blend of cognac brandy, the essence of bitter orange, and, of course, sweetness from added sugar. Though the liqueur can be sipped as a digestif after a meal or in mixed cocktails, Grand Marnier has earned its spot in most American liquor cabinets for its unique use in baking and cooking. While Grand Marnier's sweet orange flavor and a hint of vanilla from the cognac has lent itself beautifully to use pastries and baked goods, it has also traditionally been used in roasted duck and other glazed poultry dishes.
In this recipe, Grand Marnier is mixed with sweet apricot preserves, tart balsamic vinegar, and sharp Dijon mustard for a tangy sweet and sour flavor, which becomes both a marinade and glaze for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Though many diehard fans say that there is no real substitute for Grand Marnier, you can substitute Cointreau or any other orange-flavored liqueur. Many liquor stores sell single serving or "airplane" bottles of certain varieties, which can be helpful in recipes calling for liquor or liqueur that you do not keep on hand. If you are looking for a non-alcoholic substitution, you can substitute unsweetened orange juice concentrate in this recipe one-to-one.
To get the most flavorful baked Chicken Grand Marnier, be sure to plan ahead for marination time and to adjust cooking time or temperature for your oven, if necessary, to not overcook the chicken breasts.
- 1 1/4 cups low-sugar (or regular) apricot preserves (or jam)
- 1/2 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper (or cayenne), or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Mix apricot jam, Grand Marnier, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, honey, pepper flakes, and sage in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Gently heat while stirring until jam has melted and all ingredients are combined. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Place chicken breasts in a large zip-top bag. Pour in the apricot marinade, squeeze out the air, and seal the bag. Toss to coat chicken. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking pan with nonstick foil.
Remove chicken from marinade and arrange in a single layer in the prepared pan. Reserve 3/4 cup of the marinade. Bake chicken breasts about 30 minutes, basting with reserved marinade every 10 minutes. Do not overcook or chicken will be dry. Cover loosely with foil and let chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.
The chicken is also good sliced at room temperature and makes for a perfect salad topper.