Cooks Corner

Make a Carrabba’s fan-favorite chicken dish at home

Chicken Bryan
Chicken Bryan Carrabba’s Italian Grill

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Chef Pepin and Winn-Dixie have collaborated on “Dos Culturas, Mucha Frescura,” a collection of recipes celebrating the fusion of Latin and American food cultures.

One of the recipes, included here, is for Guava Ribs, a blend of Southern barbecue and Latin ingredients. Find more, from corn pizza to mango wings, at twoculturesamazingfreshness.com. Pepin will do cooking demonstrations from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Winn-Dixie at 3725 SW 22nd St., Miami.

Pepin, born in Cuba, was one of the first chefs on Spanish-language television in the United States. He is a regular on Miami’s WPBT-2’s New Florida and Univision’s Despierta America.

Reader question: Carrabba’s chicken

Q. Just tried the new Carrabba’s Italian Grill on Flagler and loved the chicken with goat cheese. Can you get a recipe?

P.T.

A. Chicken Bryan is one of the chain’s most popular dishes. I’ve adapted a recipe from managing partner Joe Kettinger for home use, but add that there’s something about the wood grilling at the restaurant that just doesn’t translate as well using a gas grill on my patio!

September birthdays

I was born in September, as was one of my best friends, my brother, my great aunt and my car mechanic. Turns out there are more people with birthdays this month than any other. (Hmm. Must be the December chill or holiday goodwill.) At any rate, I was completely intrigued by the looks of this polka dot birthday cake designed by McCormick and couldn’t wait to spring it for — you guessed it — a birthday party.

It was not hard to make at all, looked spectacular sliced, and tasted good too, though I’m not sure the flavors in the polka dots actually come through individually. If you don’t have a September birthday to celebrate, try this technique for your next bake sale or potluck.

Tried and New

If you’ve ever dried out Thanksgiving turkey, under-baked a roast or fricasseed a casserole, you may want to take your kitchen into the digital age. I have to admit I was skeptical about the notion of a smart thermometer using Bluetooth technology to let me know on my iPad that my roast was at the optimum temperature. But once I tried the iDevice Kitchen Thermometer Mini I found it pretty intriguing, despite its $40 price tag.

You download a free app that will tell you the right internal temperature for whatever you input. Then place the probe in the protein, and a 4-foot cable runs to a magnetized base with a running display. It will both flash and ring in the kitchen and send the temperature display and the “done” alert to your IOS device (iPhone 4s and later, iPad 3 and later, iPod Touch 5th generation) so you don’t have to be in the kitchen constantly checking.

I tried it on a turkey tenderloin, and the iDevice had me take it out of the oven a lot sooner than I normally would have even considered. It was cooked perfectly.

Downside: Though the instructions say you can be up to 150 feet away from the oven, reality is that it depends how Bluetooth-friendly your surroundings are. If you have places in your home where you have trouble getting a clear signal on your phone, you probably won’t get the iDevice signal easily either. Another hitch is that the battery is a coin-type that you are not likely to have around when you need a replacement. (The more expensive iDevice 2-probe model uses common AAs).

The iDevices may be purchased at iDevicesinc.com. Jennie-O — recognizing that too many of us have trouble with dried-out turkey burgers and holiday feasts — has paired with iDevice and is offering a $10 off coupon. Find it on Jennie-O ground turkey packages while supplies last.

Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.

Main dish

Fusion Guava Ribs

5 pounds St. Louis-style pork ribs

2 tablespoons hickory flavor liquid smoke

2 tablespoons water

2 cups of guava jelly

1 cup of favorite barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons apple vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

7 ounces (half a bar) guava paste

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a shallow baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove the membrane from the ribs by slipping a fork underneath and pulling it free. Mix the liquid smoke and water and place in a large plastic sealable bag with the ribs. Shake, turn and marinate for a few minutes, to allow the smoke flavor to permeate. Place the ribs, bone side down, on the prepared pan. Seal completely with more foil. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the meat easily pulls off the bone.

While ribs are roasting, make the sauce: Place remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix well. Store in refrigerator until ready to use

When ribs are ready, pour off any cooking liquid. Turn the ribs so the bone faces up and cover them with the sauce as desired. Return to the oven for 5 minutes to allow the sauce to heat through. Makes 6 servings.

Dessert

Polka Dot Cut-Out Cake

2 packages (2-layer-size each) white cake mix, divided

1 teaspoon raspberry extract

20 drops red food color, divided

1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

20 drops green food color

1/4 teaspoon orange extract

20 drops yellow food color

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 1 package of the cake mix as directed on package. Divide batter evenly among 3 bowls (about 1 1/3 cups batter in each bowl). Stir raspberry extract and 10 drops of the red food color into first bowl. Stir lemon extract and green food color into second bowl. Stir orange extract, yellow food color and remaining 10 drops red food color into third bowl. Pour each color of batter into separate greased 8-inch round cake pans. Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Cut circles from each cake with 1-inch round cookie cutter.

Prepare second package of the cake mix as directed on package, stirring in vanilla. Divide batter evenly among 3 greased 8-inch round cake pans. Press assorted colored cake circles into batter in each pan. (Cake circles will be visible above the batter line). Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of white cake comes out clean. (Cake circles will remain visible.)

Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire rack before frosting between layers and on top — a vanilla buttercream is perfect. Makes 16 servings.

Source: McCormick Spices.

Main dish

Carrabba’s Chicken Bryan

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Olive oil for brushing

Salt and pepper to taste

8 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1 tablespoon chopped onion

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoons white wine

Juice of 2 lemons

4 slices from a log of goat cheese (2 ounces per chicken breast suggested)

2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Brush chicken on both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill chicken until cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending upon grill heat and thickness of the breasts.

In a sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until softened. Add the wine and lemon juice, reduce heat to a simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes, until liquid is reduced by about 90 percent. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. A little at a time, add remaining butter, stirring constantly, until butter melts and mixture emulsifies. Season to taste.

To finish: Place a slice of goat cheese on top of each piece of chicken and grill until warmed through. Place the lemon butter sauce over medium-low heat and add the sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Heat gently until hot but do not overheat or the sauce will break. Spoon over the chicken. If desired, serve with a side of pasta with tomato sauce or a fresh salad. Makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero for Cook’s Corner from a recipe by Joe Kettinger of Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

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