Chicken Vino Bianco (Olive Garden-ish)

Chicken Vino Bianco

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into medallions
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cups oyster mushrooms, diced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbsps olive oil
  • 2 Tbsps + 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 250 g pasta, cooked al dente

Directions

Season the chicken fillets with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with flour. Add 2 Tbsps of the olive oil and 1 Tbsp of the butter to a pan on medium-high heat until the butter is melted. Place the chicken breasts in the pan and cook until a golden brown and turn. Add another Tbsp of butter to the pan and cook the medallions until the inside temperature reaches 75ºC (165ºF). Remove from the pan, and set aside. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, add the shallots and sauté, add the mushrooms and sauté until soft. Add the tomatoes, then add the chicken broth and white wine. Cook down until the liquid is reduced significantly. Add 1/4 cup of butter and melt, stirring into the sauce. Add the chicken back into the pan, turning to coat. Place the pasta in a large shallow dish, then top with sauce and chicken. Serve.

And now for the details…

I had a period of time in my early twenties when I was borderline obsessed with the Olive Garden. Raised eyebrows and cringes, I’m sure, from the foodies out there. But I have to admit, I still enjoy visiting, particularly for the lunch of endless soup, salad and breadsticks. Their Zuppa Toscana? Delicious. Yep. I’m losing creditability from the foodie hipsters as I type. I recognize your need to shudder and turn away, but am not changing my mind on this one. Sorry folks, I love food. All food. In my mind, food sources do not need to be subversive, exclusive, or cutting edge to be delicious.

A favourite dish, which unfortunately I have not seen on their menu for well over a decade, was Chicken Vino Bianco. Through some trial and error, I think I have come pretty close to recreating it, and now am sharing with all of you! Pair this with a salad with Olive Garden salad dressing from Costco, and we are bringing the restaurant home!

We start by butterflying the chicken breasts and then cutting them into medallions. This pink cutting board? It is specific for my meat prep! To avoid cross-contamination, I have this separate board that I use strictly for raw meats, fish, and poultry. Safety first people! Now, salt and pepper each side of the medallions, and then dust them with flour. Shake off any excess flour and we are ready to start sautéing!

Heat up some olive oil at medium-high heat and melt the two tablespoons of butter into the oil. Once the butter is completely melted and starts bubbling slightly, add the chicken in a single layer, and cook until browned on both sides and completely cooked through the middle.

Set the chicken aside, but keep the pan hot. Add the shallots and a bit more olive oil if there is little of the oil left in the pan after cooking the chicken. Sauté the shallot until fragrant, then add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have just begun to turn soft. Next, we add the wine and cook down until the wine has almost completed reduced, there should be little liquid left in the pan.

(Now is also a good time to boil your water for your pasta.)

This is just after adding the wine, lots of liquid to lose yet!

We add our tomatoes next, and allow them to cook down for just a short bit of time, releasing some of their liquid, and softening slightly. Cooking for too long will lose our nice bright colour from the tomatoes, and cause them to smoosh in with the other ingredients, getting lost in the mix.

(Have you added pasta to your water yet? Get that going so you have pasta and sauce at the same time!)

Our last step is to melt in the 1/4 cup of butter, which is going to bring the liquid element back in, creating a nice sauce, and then bring the chicken back into the pan. Spoon sauce over the chicken, getting everything nice and saucy. Do a quick taste test here to see if you need any additional salt or fresh ground pepper. Add more S&P to taste.

Place your pasta in a large dish, then top with the chicken and sauce. If you would like, you can garnish with some fresh parsley and parmesan cheese.

Happy eating.

Tacos with Chimichurri Flank Steak and Buttermilk Cole Slaw

Tacos with Chimichurri Flank Steak and Cole Slaw

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Green and Garlicky Chimichurri Sauce
  • 1 recipe Creamy Buttermilk Cole Slaw
  • 1 kg (2 lbs) flank steak
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, stemmed
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 tsp chipotle oil, like Huipi Chil Salsa Mango Chipotle
  • 8-12 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup canola (or other vegetable) oil

Directions

Place the flank steak in a ziplock bag with 3/4 of the chimichurri sauce, reserving 1/4 of the sauce, set aside. Ensure the steak is fully covered with the sauce, release any air from the bag, seal, and marinate in a refrigerator overnight. Remove from the bag, and dispose of the bag and any leftover sauce. Barbecue the flank steak at medium-high heat until desired level of doneness. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10-15 minutes. Mix the crème fraîche with the chipotle oil until evenly mixed, set aside. Heat the canola oil at medium-high heat in a shallow pan until hot. Add the tortillas, one at a time, turning after 10-30 seconds on each side, and place to the side on a towel. Cut the flank steak across the grain into strips. Serve all items, and assemble tacos, with steak, Cole slaw, chimichurri sauce, chipotle sauce, and fresh cilantro.

And now for the details…

Yep, I’m pulling a buttload of previous recipes into this one. The Garlicky Chimichurri sauce and Creamy Buttermilk Cole slaw find new meaning in these delicious tacos that are sure to be a crowd pleaser. And is that the Ratatouille recipe in the background as an optional side to this meal? Oh you bet your sweet ass…ets it is.

I had actually made all these elements separately earlier and realized how complementary they would all be together as one. And so… these tacos were born!

Flank steak, although flavourful and meaty, is a fairly tough cut of meat. Luckily, that also means that it is usually quite affordable, although the trendiness has boosted its market value of late. Flank steak needs the chimichurri marinade to help break it down to provide its juicy, tender grilled perfection for this dish. In addition to marinating, we will be cutting the steak across the grain, which will help give the impression of tenderness.

We will start by marinading our steak in the chimichurri sauce. Add the steak and about 3/4 of the chimichurri sauce into a ziploc bag. Reserve the rest of the chimichurri in the fridge to serve with the tacos. If you are environmentally conscious and do not want to waste a bag, feel free to use a container that you can seal. Just makes sure the steak is evenly coated by the marinade, and try to turn it over partway through its marinading process. Let the steak sit in all that savoury scrumptiousness in the fridge overnight. Think of it as treating you steak to a spa-like body treatment. Everything needs to fully sink in.

You can prepare the cole slaw the night before when you are getting the steak ready for its body wrap, or just before you are ready to serve the rest of your meal. I would recommend the day before, though, since I feel cole slaw tastes better the next day. You won’t need to whole recipe of slaw for the tacos, and since it keeps so well in the fridge, you will be stocked with a side dish for a couple of days afterward!

Remove the flank steak from it marinade, and throw away the leftover marinade. Barbecue the steak on medium-high heat, until your preferred level of doneness. This site has a great chart for the different temperatures to aim for, and estimated cooking times.

Once the steak is done cooking, remove it from the heat and let it rest for at least 10 minutes prior to cutting. When you are ready, cut it against the grain. Cutting it against the grain will make the bite feel less stringy, since you have already cut the muscle fibre short, giving it the feel of tenderness when you are eating.

While you are waiting for the steak to rest, you can prepare your crème fraîche and tortillas. The crème fraîche is the easiest, stirring it together with the oil until they have mixed completely. Once you are done, heat the canola oil to medium-high heat, then place the tortillas in the hot oil, one at a time, flipping after only about 20 seconds. You have to watch this quite closely, cooking too long will result in crunchy edges and the tacos will fall apart when you try to bend them to eat. Transfer them from the heat to a paper towel-lined plate.

When the tacos are ready, serve them with the steak, reserved chimichurri, chipotle crème fraîche, cilantro, and cole slaw. Assemble your tacos at the table, and enjoy!

Happy eating.

Creamy Buttermilk Cole Slaw

Creamy Cole Slaw

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 small cabbage, sliced finely
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 1/2 onion, shredded
  • 2 garlic cloves, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp dijon
  • 1/4 c. mayo
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions


Mix together the cabbage and carrots. Whisk together the rest of the ingredients in the dressing, then pour over the vegetables and toss until evenly coated.

And now for the details…

Well, this recipe is not terrible pretty, but it sure is yummy. I feel as though the Netflix show ‘Ugly Delicious’ could take its title and attach it to this side. Cole slaw’s are not usually overly pretty and do not offer the same presentation possibilities as many other dishes, but are tasty and very versatile in their use. I mean, really, what other salad do you know that you can put together completely, dress, and have it not only taste great the next day, but often even better than it did the first!

And man, does this salad have lasting power. I will make it at the beginning of the week, and we often have it multiple times throughout the week, minimizing the evening meal prep, and it holds well when taking it to work as a side.

Prep on this salad is relatively easy, but is definitely easier with the use of a very sharp knife. I use my Japanese knife to cut the cabbage quite fine, since this is my preference. If a super sharp knife is not available to you, feel free to use a food processor to shred your cabbage, carrots, and onions. They will not be as fine, but will still be fresh and crunchy and will soak up the dressing.

A quick note on cabbage: I have used green cabbage, pretty standard, in this recipe. You can use Napa or savoy instead, but the salad will not last quite as long. My grandma used to grow cabbage that would form earlier than the green cabbage. It was sweeter and more tender than its later-blooming cousin, but either work well for cole slaws.

After your veggies have been shredded and mixed, whisk together the dressing ingredients. To get a better consistency to the mix, stir the garlic and onions in with the dressing ingredients, not with the veggies.

Finally, pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss vigorously, until everything has mixed well together. Serve the cole slaw on its own as a side, or as a topping (hint: it goes really well on tacos… future post? Highly likely.)

Happy eating.