Friday, September 14, 2012

Chicken Bryan A.K.A. a party in your mouth

At the beginning of my blogging adventure, two years ago, I wrote about a tradition of ours called "The Celebration of Daves". It's a celebration meal honoring Dave Hunt and David Thomas – two incredible, food-loving men, prepared by their food-loving, food-preparing wives.  This tradition has stood the test of time.  (We think it's been about 14 years). The four of us (David, Connie, Dave and I) are all highly motivated to continue this sweet annual ritual. We love this tradition because it is food and friends, period. We don't get to spend much time together, especially as couples.  And we all love good food, so this dinner is one we cherish and anticipate all year long.

connie and me a decade ago
aproned and cooking for the
Celebration of Daves
(In addition, Connie and I love to work together in the kitchen and it's such a rare treat).  We most often hold this celebration in late July or early August.  However, this year, with schedules and an early start to school, we just finally had our dinner last week!

When Connie and I were on the phone discussing menu options, we were tired and stumped about what to make.  We decided to ask our honorees if they had any requests.  When I asked Dave, he said, "Oh, it doesn't matter!" and then, "What about Chicken Bryan?"  I said, "Oh that would be delicious and special, however, it requires grilling, which I fear will be tricky for us to pull off with all of the rest of the cooking inside without someone to monitor the grill."  (I wanted to protect him from managing the grill on his birthday celebration meal.)

Then Connie asked David to which he replied,  "What about that chicken from Carrabba's restaurant that yall have made before?"

OKAY! I think we have a clear sign, what we should make.
So we decided to make Carrabba's Chicken Bryan.
Have you ever been to this restaurant? It's an Italian chain. The food is really tasty.

If you have been there, have you ever ordered the Chicken Bryan?
I must admit I would NEVER, NEVER have thought to order a grilled chicken dish at an Italian restaurant.  Maybe chicken parmesan, but when I think Italian, I think pasta: baked ziti, ravioli, linguini, or lasagna, but grilled chicken wouldn't be a thought of mine.
However, one day I was with a friend and her mother who ordered it and I tasted it.
And my taste buds celebrated! It's grilled chicken with a white wine/butter/onion/garlic/fresh basil reduction poured on top with sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese.  I'm telling you.  It's special.

I dug around online a few years ago and found a recipe for Chicken Bryan and it's a darn good replica.  It's not an all-the-time dish, as it requires some effort AND lots of butter!
Dave describes this dish as a "a party in your mouth".
It is so flavorful and complex in its textures and tastes.  It is creamy and tangy and rich.

We chose to serve Pasta Raphael with the Chicken, which is a delicious tomato, onion, artichoke pasta sauce recipe from The New Basics Cookbook.  Connie was served this dish by our friend Whitney years ago and she introduced me and it's a favorite of ours.  It is a superb sauce.  I highly recommend you try it sometime. It's more work than a simple red sauce, but it is a beautiful and flavorful dish.

If you are looking for a special dinner menu, this would be great.
Dave told me the other day that this dinner was one of the best meals he has had in his life.
To which I scoffed. To which he said, "I'm for real." I do think there were other contributing factors: We were sitting on the screened porch on a lovely night (David T. actually commented that it was the temp he would like his house to be set on if electricity bills were not a concern), with dear friends, eating a special meal.  I'm not so sure these other factors didn't play into his bliss.  After all, my mom always said, "it's the company that seasons the meal."

The Menu
Bruschetta - a staple of the Celebration of Daves
(served while we are preparing the main course)

Simple Green Salad tossed in lemon vinaegrette
Chicken Bryan
Pasta Raphael
Artisan bread with dipping herb oil

and for dessert- one of the favorites of the Daves: Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Chicken Bryan

1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. minced yellow onion
2 Tbsp. butter
½ cup dry white wine (or cooking white wine)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup cold butter- sliced
the butter and wine 
1 ½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. pepper
6 skinless chicken breasts
olive oil for brushing
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
8 oz. goat cheese

Sautee garlic and onion in 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat until tender.
Stir in wine and lemon juice into skillet, increase heat to medium high, and simmer to reduce by half. 
the party
Reduce heat to low and stir in cold butter, one slice at a time.
Stir in tomatoes, basil, kosher salt, and white pepper; remove from heat; set aside.

Brush chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grill chicken on hot grill 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Immediately after removing from the grill, place equal amounts of cheese on each breast.
Spoon prepared sun-dried tomato sauce over chicken.

the beginnings of Pasta Raphael

borrowed from The New Basics Cookbook

2 jars (6 oz. each) marinated artichoke hearts
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper
½ tsp. salt
pinch of dried pepper flakes
1 can (28 oz.) plum tomatoes, with their juice
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
the last addition of fresh, flat leaf parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley

Drain the artichoke hears, reserving the marinade.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onions, garlic, oregano, basil, pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, and reserved artichoke marinade.  Saute´ over medium-low heat until the onions and garlic are soft and translucent – 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the artichoke hears, Parmesan and parsley. Stir gently, and simmer another 5 minutes.

Enough for 1 pound of pasta

dinner is served

Unfortunately the photos are limited and aren't the best at capturing this dish (as it was busy, dark and the honorees were anxious to eat, not have their plates photographed). 



  1. I love hearing about Celebration of Dave's! What a fun tradition! Both pasta dishes look amazing!!

  2. This is absolutely an incredible meal!!! I can't say enough good about this. I'm thankful for a wife who treats me to so many food delights!