As the weather cools down, I want more and more comfort food. I gravitate towards pastas, all forms of a warm meal, and food with a little spice to it to keep me feeling toasty.
Carrabba’s must know I’m not alone. They have recently launched a new Fire Finished menu and I was lucky enough to do a tasting of it! Last week, I headed over to a local Carrabba’s and tried the following:
- Fire Roasted Mushrooms stuffed with sausage, red bell peppers, fennel, sauteed onions, brioche breadcrumbs, artichoke hearts, and romano cheese.
- Cedar Plank-Fired Salmon first pan-seared then topped with a crabcake and fire-roasted on a cedar plank then finished off with a lemon butter sauce. Served with roasted asparagus mushrooms and red bell peppers.
- Bistecca Ardente: Center-cut sirloin wood-grilled then topped with blue cheese, roasted tomatoes, and basil.
- Rigatoni al Forno: Rigatoni tossed in housemade marinara sauce, romano and mozzarella cheese and topped with Italian fennel sausage, mozzarella and fresh ricotta cheese finished off in a wood-burning oven.
- Nonna Testa: Penne pasta with wood-grilled chicken in a housemade pesto cream (basil, pine nuts, walnuts) with spinach and zucchini, topped with mozzarella and baked in a wood-burning oven.
- Creme Brulee prepared with Madagascar vanilla bean topped with torched turbinado sugar, whipped cream, and strawberries.
The fire-roasted mushrooms were a great start to the meal. I love fennel so I was happy this flavor came through. The mixture is lightly stuffed in the mushrooms so they remain nice and light. Really tasty!
The cedar plank-fired salmon was one of my favorite dishes. I loved it so much, I tried to recreate it! The salmon was perfectly cooked and the crabcake was a great addition. The cedar flavor shown through without being overpowering. Check out my recipe below to make at home.
The Bistecco Ardente was so juicy, especially for being cooked to medium-well. The blue cheese can be a tad overpowering though so I scooped a bit off so that I could get the taste of the steak, tomatoes, and basil as well.
The Rigatoni al Forno gave me more of my beloved fennel flavor. I liked that the pasta on top got crispy from the wood-burning oven, but would’ve liked more sauce to complement the pasta.
Nonna Testa was another of my favorites. Man this was good. The wood-grilled chicken was really juicy and flavorful and there was the perfect amount of pesto cream on the pasta (lightly dressed so it’s not overly heavy). I love spinach and zucchini so I couldn’t have been happier with this dish!
Now I’m pretty sure I’ve never met a creme brulee I didn’t like but this version was really really tasty. The vanilla flavored custard was so creamy and I loved the light touch of torched sugar to give a very thin crust to the dish without overpowering the custard with too much sugar.
Needless to say, I left super full and really happy with the tasting. The staff at the Springfield Carrabba’s were so attentive and helpful too! Thanks for a great meal!
The managing partner, Ernie, even took the time to explain all of the dishes and answer any questions we had. When I told him I was planning on doing a giveaway so that my readers could try this tasty menu, he gave me a copy of the Carrabba’s Italian Grill Cookbook for myself and one to give away! The cookbook does not include recipes for the fire finished menu (because it’s so new) but many of Carrabba’s signature dishes, including Chicken Bryan, Mama Mandola’s Sicilian Chicken Soup, and Margherita Pizza are included within its pages. So special thanks to Ernie for the cookbooks!
In addition to the cookbook, I am also giving away a $25 gift certificate to Carrabba’s so that one reader can try out some of the menu for themselves. Details after the recipe …
Note: It is very difficult to make smaller portions of crab cakes because crab meat is usually sold in 1 pound containers. I made about 9 crab cakes and saved the leftovers for dinner the next night. If you are unable to do that, you can purchase pre-made crabcakes from your local supermarket.
Ingredients (serves 2):
- CRABCAKES (makes 9, only use 2 and save the rest for up to one day):
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 1 lb jumbo lumb crab meat
- 1/3 cup panko
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- the zest of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 8-oz salmon fillets
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cedar plank board
- LEMON BUTTER SAUCE
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, divided (I used ghee, a clarified butter)
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1/3 cup white wine
- the juice of two lemons
Start by making your crabcakes. Again, sorry for how many it makes. I will have a post showing how I used my leftover crabcakes in the coming days.
Add 1 tablespoon butter to a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly. While waiting to cool, add the lump crab meat to a large bowl. Pick through, making sure all shells are removed. Add the panko, mayo, Old Bay, pepper, and lemon zest. Add in the onion-red pepper mixture and stir to combine. (I probably should have added an egg into the mixture to bind them better but for my purposes a fall apart crab cake was just fine. Feel free to add in the egg).
Form into 9 crabcakes. Do not pack them too tightly, you want them to be a little loose. Add to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Soak your cedar plank in water for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
To make the salmon, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Add the butter to a large saute pan over medium high heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. When the butter has melted, add the salmon skin side up to the saute pan.
Cook for about 5 minutes or until the salmon has browned. Flip and cook for another 5 minutes.
Remove the salmon from the pan and add to the cedar plank. Add 2 of the crab cakes to the saute pan and cook for 4 minutes on each side or until browned.
Add the crab cakes on top of the salmon. Add the plank to the oven and cook for 10 minutes.
While waiting for the salmon to cook, add 1 tablespoon butter (or ghee) to a small pot over medium low heat. When melted, add in the onion and garlic cloves, stirring. Cook until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and lemon juice, stirring to combine. Cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the remaining butter/ghee tablespoon by tablespoon to the mixture, stirring with a whisk to combine. Do not increase the heat, you want it to come together over a low heat.
When all of the butter is incorporated, pour the mixture through a sieve, discarding the solids. Add the butter mixture back to the pot and keep warm over low heat.
When the salmon is finished, add to individual plates and top with the lemon butter sauce.
I served mine with sauteed mushrooms and steams asparagus topped with some of the lemon butter sauce (like they do in Carrabba’s).
I didn’t taste the cedar plank flavor as much as I wanted to because I didn’t cook this on a grill but it was still really delicious. The crabcake on top of the salmon keeps the salmon from drying out and adds a great flavor to the whole dish. (The slight spiciness of Old Bay makes everything taste better though, doesn’t it?)
The lemon butter sauce was a perfect accompaniment. I squeezed a bit of fresh lemon juice over everything right before serving to add a bit more acid to the dish.
So my lemon butter sauce is not the Carrabba’s one (although it somehow got pretty close by accident) but I noticed after the fact that the cookbook I am giving away has the sauce in there! So you can make the authentic version for yourself 🙂
On to the giveaway. Use the widget below to enter. Good luck!