If I could eat at Olive Garden every night, I would in a heartbeat! Unfortunately, having two little ones has made it a bit more challenging to eat out--both from a financial standpoint and based on the fact that it's not overly enjoyable to dine out when dealing with kids who don't want to sit still for more than five minutes! While I was home visiting my parents last month, I took advantage of looking through some of the HUNDREDS of cookbooks that my Mom owns. I came across this "Top Secret Restaurant Recipe" cookbook and sat drooling as I imagined just how wonderful it would be to recreate some of my restaurant favorites at home! (Especially for a fraction of what I'd pay to eat the dishes out!) While I've never had Olive Garden's Chicken Scampi and therefore, have no basis of comparison, I can tell you that this dish was as good as any I had ever eaten at Olive Garden! It was a bit time consuming, but well worth it! Just a couple of suggestions: You may want to 1 1/2 the sauce and consider adding fresh mushrooms--my husband would never agree to the mushrooms, but if your family likes them, I think they'd be a nice addition.
Olive Garden Chicken Scampi
3 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons minced white onion 1/3 cup minced garlic (8 to 12 cloves) 1 1/2 cups Chablis wine 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley 1 cup heavy cream
5 to 6 quarts water 16 ounces angel hair pasta 4 tablespoons olive oil 12 chicken tenderloins 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1 green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized strips 1 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized strips 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-sized strips 1 chopped red onion 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
*Optional Garnish: Parmesan cheese*
Make scampi sauce by melting butter in a preheated pan over medium/low heat. Add 2 tablespoons minced white onion and saute for 2 to 4 minutes or until the onion begins to brown. If the butter begins to burn, turn down the heat. When the onion is beginning to brown, add the minced garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Don't let the garlic burn. After about 30 seconds, add the wine, salt, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and black pepper and bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer for approximately 15 to 18 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by half. Add parsley and heavy cream and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. Do not let mixture reach a boil.
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the angel hair pasta and cook for about 4 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander when done, then hit it with some cold water to prevent sticking and to keep it from cooking further.
Preheat oil in 2 large skillets over medium heat. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken tenderloins, then coat each one in the flour that has been measured into a large bowl. Arrange all of the coated tenderloins on a plate before sauteing 6 tenderloins in each pan. Cook the tenderloins for 3 to 5 minutes on one side or until golden brown. When the chicken is brown on one side, flip each of the pieces and move them to the side of the pans. Add an even amount of sliced peppers and chopped red onion to the center of each skillet. Continue cooking the chicken and vegetables for 4 to 6 minutes or until the chicken is browned and the veggies are beginning to brown on the edges.
Divide the scampi sauce in half and pour it over the chicken and other ingredients in each pan. Add 2 portions of pasta to each pan, then toss everything a bit and continue to cook for a couple of minutes or until the pasta is heated through. Prepare each dish by serving equal amounts of pasta onto each of four plates. Use a spoon or tongs to add the peppers and onion on top of each pile of pasta. Arrange three chicken tenderloins in the center of the pasta. Sprinkle each plate with about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh parsley and serve it up with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2, by Todd Wilbur
If you were to look up the word "picky" in the dictionary, you would see a picture of my husband off to the left. Growing up, I was exposed to all sorts of different foods and encouraged to experiment with different flavors, but after meeting my husband, I somewhat locked myself into an eight to ten meal rotation and was reluctant to deviate. I have since given birth to two of the least picky eaters on the face of the Earth, thus inspiring me to transform my cooking style. I know many people, like myself, lead such hectic lives, so I strive to find recipes that are quick and easy--especially those that you can whip up with ingredients that you ordinarily have on hand!
A bit about me...I married my husband, Marcus, on June 1, 2003 and we welcomed our son Jacob on March 22, 2005. Our daughter, Madeline, was born on March 1, 2008. I stay home with the kids for the most part, but also work occasional shifts as a registered nurse at a local hospital. I truly hope you enjoy my blog. A special "thank you" to my sister, Sarah, for giving me the idea! Her creativity is hard to live up to, but I'm a very determined person and hope to make her proud :)