• 79°

Copy cats make great recipes

By Lisa Tindell

With the current situation in restaurants, it may still be a little while before I get a chance to enjoy a meal with a waitress involved. But, I certainly have missed some of the local flavor by not being able to sit down and have someone else prepare a meal for me.

Mind you, I have certainly done my share of curb-side pick-up over the past couple of months, but there is nothing like sitting down and having a great conversation over a glass of sweet tea while somebody prepares and brings your food right to your table.

If you’ve been missing the luxury of sitting in a restaurant for a meal, you may be missing out on some of your favorite dishes just like me. But, during the past two months, I have taken the time to go through some websites, cookbooks and even tried an experiment or two on my own, to copy some dishes that I have been missing.

I will tell you up front that I have had some bad blunders with a copycat recipe or two, but I’ve also had some successes as well. Those successful attempts to recreate a few dishes at home have brought me to the subject of this week’s recipe selections.

I know that when I try a recipe that says “taste just like xyz” …it’s a lie. It may be pretty close, but it’s probably not going to be possible to recreate every aspect of a restaurant dish. I know that I don’t have some of the ingredients that are used in restaurants and I certainly don’t have the same equipment. Who has a salamander in their kitchen? Well, if you do, I’m jealous.

At any rate, there are some staple items you might want to have in the pantry if you want to try and recreate a restaurant dish at home. In a small rural town like Brewton, there may be an ingredient or two that you may have to leave out. I’m not sure any of the grocery stores in Brewton actually carry tahini paste. If you find it, please let me know. Hummus is one of my favorite things and it’s just impossible to make without that ingredient.

At any rate, I’ve gathered a collection of a few copycat recipes that I hope you’ll find interesting enough to try on your own. Remember, a recipe is just a guide and you can omit or add anything that makes your family happy. However, also keep in mind, that if you omit something from a copycat recipe, you’re probably not going to be able to expect that restaurant quality dish.

My first choice is for a favorite of mine that I haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying in quite some time. It takes a little work, but it’s certainly worth the effort.

Alice Springs Chicken (Outback Steakhouse-style)

Honey Mustard Sauce/Marinade

1/2 cup Dijon Mustard

1/2 cup honey

3 tablespoons mayo

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Chicken ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves seasoned with salt and black pepper

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

1 tablespoon butter

4 slices bacon, cooked

6 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese

6 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

 

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup Dijon mustard with 1/2 cup honey, 3 tablespoons mayo, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Pour half the sauce into a small bowl, cover and reserve for later.

Place the chicken in a large Ziploc bag. Pour the remaining marinade in the bag and toss the chicken to coat. Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add the mushrooms and cook for 7-10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender and just starting to turn golden brown. Heat a skillet or grill pan to medium high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and season each piece with salt and black pepper. Place the chicken in the preheated pan. Cook for about 4 minutes, then when the chicken is golden brown, flip the chicken and cook for an additional 4 minutes. The goal here is to just sear the chicken and get a nice golden-brown color on the outside. Transfer the chicken to an oven safe casserole dish. Spoon some of the mushrooms on top of each piece of chicken. Break a piece of cooked bacon in half and arrange the bacon over the chicken. Divide the Monterey Jack Cheese and the Cheddar cheese evenly and sprinkle over each piece of chicken. Place the chicken in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes (possibly longer if your chicken is really thick), or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 and the cheese has melted. Serve with remaining honey mustard sauce on the side.

 

With summer coming on hot and strong, salad is probably my go-to side dish for any meal. I was blown away the first time I had this dressing and it never lets me down.

 

Mango Poppyseed Vinaigrette (Disneyworld’s Polynesian Luau)

1 tablespoon corn syrup

2 tablespoons molasses

4 tablespoons sugar

1/2 mango pureed

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

2 cups canola oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 pinch salt

to taste, white pepper

 

Wash and peel mango. Dice into cubes and puree in the food processor. Continue blending and add the rest of the ingredients (except canola oil and poppy seeds), blend until creamy consistency. Pour in canola oil slowly until completely emulsified; add poppy seeds at the very end. Adjust seasoning to taste and keep refrigerated.

And finally, what would a summer meal be without a little something cold to finish the meal? I know…and this may be the easiest, most perfect way to end a meal any time of the year. I will also add to make sure you buy quality chocolate milk. The main ingredient in this recipe is key to the quality of the finished product.

 

Frosty (Wendy’s)

16 oz. whipped topping, thawed

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1-gallon chocolate milk

 

In a mixing bowl, combine the whipped topping and condensed milk until thoroughly blended. Pour the mixture into the tub of an ice cream freezer. Pour chocolate milk into the tub with mixture until it reaches the fill line of the container. Put the top on and freeze according to machine directions.

Note: This will be a very soft ice cream, just like the real Wendy’s frosty. Your machine probably will not stall during the freezing process to indicate a frozen product. This should take about 20 minutes or so. That time may vary on temperature and conditions where the machine is being operated.