20 May 2013

Eats: Chicken Bryan, a la Carrabba's

Try as it might, Nashville was never much of a foodie city, at least when we lived there. At the time I thought it might be, compared to my rural upbringing (it was like Christmas and birthday all rolled into one when we finally got a McDonald's in our little town). But looking back, I realize just how few independent restaurants there were in Nashville. And because Mr. P and I are not usually ones to scoff at chain restaurants (we’re equal-opportunity eaters), we often found ourselves at restaurants popular in Nashville and across the nation.

Believe it or not, St. Louis is way more of a foodie city than Nashville (scoff not, nonexistent New York and LA readers). So nowadays, if Mr. P and I want Italian food, we head to the Italian neighborhood. It’s one of my absolute favorite date nights! However, even with all the tasty food there, even though I like supporting small local businesses... I miss a favorite chain restaurant dish from our days in Nashville: the Chicken Bryan from Carrabba’s.

Oh yes. Carrabba’s was one of our favorite go-tos in Nashville, but even though St. Louis is three times the size of Nashville, there’s nary a Carrabba’s to be found (see, I TOLD you it was more of a foodie city). So if I wanted to have Chicken Bryan – with its tangy sundried tomatoes and goat cheese, yum – I’d have to try to make it myself. I didn’t quite mimic the original, but I got close enough to tell you about it!

First of all, I don’t have a wood-burning grill for the chicken. I didn’t even want to burden Mr. P with the task of grilling the chicken on our propane grill. So, I just saut├ęd the chicken per usual on the stove. But if you grill it, I think that’d really enhance the flavor!

Once it’s done, I had those little delicious bits of charred chicken in the pan. I took advantage of those by setting aside the cooked chicken and splashing in just a tablespoon or two of white wine to deglaze the pan. I cooked it down over medium-high heat until it was a syrupy goodness.

Then, I took the pan off the burner (important, you don’t want this to burn!) and added a tablespoon of butter, a heaping tablespoon of minced garlic, and minced onion (I used about a teaspoon of the dried stuff) to the delicious de-glazed bits:

Then back to medium-low heat (again, don’t let that stuff burn... like I nearly did while trying to snap that photo) for a few minutes to cook the garlic and onion.

Now here’s where things got a little wonky. After reading through a few other copycat recipes, and noting that the original website called the sauce “lemon butter”, I add a quarter-cup each of white wine and lemon juice, along with dried basil and pepper (fresh basil is better if you have it, obvs):

Maybe it’s because I used bottled lemon juice (OF COURSE I DID), but the end result was waaay too tangy and lemon-y for me. There’s a lot of acidity in here, and I didn’t like the overpowering lemon flavor competing with the other strong flavors. I’ll either cut it back to the juice of one small lemon, or a few tablespoons (a “splash”, in the Sarah P System of Measurements) the next time I make it.

Anyway! Overpowering lemon aside, I cooked the sauce down... waaaay down. I also used my teaspoon of cornstarch-in-water trick to thicken it up a bit. Finally, I added the sliced sundried tomatoes to the sauce (the same julienned kind I used here) and stirred it around.

Then I added the chicken back in and piled all that delicious sundried tomato goodness on top. Almost done! I put it on a plate and added a dollop of goat cheese to seal the deal.

Aside from the lemon overkill, I enjoyed this – as I said, next time I’ll fix it with less and fresh lemon juice. With a side of asparagus and roasted potatoes (slightly healthier than Carrabba’s garlic mashed potatoes), I could almost pretend I’m back in Nashville... or really any city that has a Carrabba’s.

Finally, here’s this week’s Monday meal plan!

Sunday: sandwiches (recipe later!) with fries and salad

Monday: Alfredo penne with chicken and peas, with salad on the side

Tuesday: meatball subs with roasted broccoli on the side

Wednesday: chicken in masala simmer sauce (thanks, TJ’s!) with rice and veggies

Thursday: Leftovers! Gotta clear out the fridge before traveling for the weekend.

Friday: Company night! Mr. P’s in charge of getting the Pi pizza; I’m making salad and a dessert.

Saturday: Traveling with family. I think dinner might involve birthday cake!

Hope you all have a great week, dear readers!