Thursday, March 14, 2013

Restaurant Wars - Red Lobster

I have two complaints when it comes to Red Lobster.  First, the wait.  I have never once walked into this restaurant and gotten a table right away.  It could be three o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon and you could walk in to find a forty minute wait.  Second, the service.  I'm sure it stems from the really long wait and all the people wanting to sit down and eat, but the service you get is more along the lines of - sit down, eat your food and get out.  Red Lobster isn't the European, sit as long as you'd like, linger over a cup of coffee and dessert, kind of place.  Don't take your time, eat your food and give up that table!

The reason we come to RL?  The cheddar bay biscuits of course.  Isn't that why everyone goes there?  That and I don't cook a lot of fish at home because someone won't eat it.  Eating out is the best way for me to get my lobster, fish and shellfish fix.  When ordering out, I get to order the shmorgasboard of shrimp, lobster and fish meal! 

So after waiting almost fifty minutes for our table, Boyfriend and I ordered.  He got his favorite chicken linguine dish and I loaded up on broiled fish and shellfish.  I was trying to order something that wasn't super greasy, apparently broiling also requires heaps of butter, because my dinner was still floating in oil.  To was Boyfriends pasta, but that's just the way he likes it.  We ate lots of cheesey biscuits and had almost all of our dinners to take home.

For our Red Lobster dinner at home, I had to split it into two nights.  There was no way that I could make a pasta dinner and a fish and shrimp dinner at the same time.  As much as I would like to tell you that Boyfriend helps out in the kitchen, his kitchen skills begin and end at heating.  He's had a few culinary masterpieces, but for the most part he's a prepared food preparer. 

Sunday night we had spicy chicken linguine with my own take on cheddar bay biscuits.  Monday night I threw some chicken in the fridge for Boyfriend while I prepared myself some lemon tilapia and shrimp scampi.  I'm in love with the way the chicken and pasta turned out.  It was much lighter than the restaurant meal, but so full of flavor.  It's perhaps because I used an aged parmesan cheese that was amazing.  I wanted to eat it by the chunk.

Monday nights fish dinner was a little tricky to pull together, mostly because fish cooks so fast.  The fish was ready to go much faster than the shrimp and I wasn't ready to juggle all these things (I was also preparing broccoli, stuffing and Boyfriends chicken!).  The shrimp scampi was much lighter than what I got at the restaurant, mostly because I cooked the shrimp in half butter/half olive oil.  My tilapia was simply cooked in a little butter and spritzed with some lemon.  Simple and delicious.

If you only make one thing from this post, make the biscuits!  Oh man, I think I ate four or five of these Sunday night.  I totally deserved it after that long, four-mile run.  There are many recipes for these biscuits online, but they almost all utilize Bisquick.  I was looking to make them entirely from scratch.  With a little tweaking, I think what I came out with was amazing.  If you aren't a salt freak like I am, maybe cut the garlic salt in half.

One Year Ago: Sponge Candy Cupcakes
Two Years Ago: Grape Salt Water Taffy

Cajun Chicken Linguine Alfredo
A Wilde Original

Boyfriend doesn't like seafood or shellfish.  Basically anything that lives in the ocean or stream can stay there for all he's concerned.  Yet, he's always happy to go to RL because he loves the cheddar bar biscuits and this chicken dish.  He was very specific about the fact that it is swimming in oil.  I tried to appease him by drizzling a small amount of cracker pepper oil.

2-3 chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted European (cultured) butter
1 cup parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flake
1 pound fresh egg linguine
1-2 tablespoons cracker black pepper olive oil

Heat grill or grill pan over medium heat.  Pound chicken breasts to 1/2-inch thickness.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flake.  Spread olive oil evenly over the chicken.  Grill chicken for 8 minutes on one side, flip and cook until internal temperature reaches 165 F (or until no longer pink inside).  Remove chicken from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  In a small pot, bring heavy cream and butter to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and add half of the parmesan cheese, red pepper flake, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat. 

Add pasta to the boiling water and cook to al dente.  If you are using fresh pasta, it should only take 3 minutes.  If you have dried pasta, cook according to package directions, about 10 minutes.  Drain pasta and shake off excess water.  Add hot pasta to the cream pot and toss to coat.  Pour into a large dish, sprinkle with cracked black pepper olive oil and top with grilled chicken.

Copycat Chedder Bay Biscuits
A Wilde Adaptation from several internet sources

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons cold butter
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.  Using a pastry cutter, or two forks, cut in
butter until it is well blended.  Add cheddar cheese and garlic powder, stir to mix.  Add 2/3 of the milk and stir in.  Slowly add the remaining milk until the dough comes together.  Don't add too much, you don't want to dough too sticky.

Using a 1/4-cup ice cream scoop (or two spoons), scoop out dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  While baking, mix melted butter, oregano and garlic salt.  Remove from the oven, using a pastry brush coat the tops of the biscuits with melted butter mixture.  Return to the oven for 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Shrimp Scampi
A Wilde Original

1/2 pound peeled, deveined shrimp
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped

In a large skillet, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add shrimp and cook until pink and opaque.  Remove shrimp from the pan and add white wine.  Bring to a simmer and allow liquid to reduce by half.  Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and melt.  Return shrimp to the pan and toss with the butter sauce.  Add parsley and toss to distribute.
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