Cooking with Head Chef Jay
Cooking with Head Chef Jay

Cooking With Head Chef Jay: Italian Surf & Turf

March 17, 2015 -

[ This live blog occurred on 3/18/15. The post was updated every 3 minutes]

6PM EST: Jay here! Tonight I’m going to show ya’ll what’s on the new Italian Surf & Turf Menu here at Carrabba’s.

Hope ya’ll are ready for some delicious food pics – just make sure not to drool on your screen!

6:03PM EST: First up is our most popular appetizer – our Calamari. We hand-bread each batch to order so you’re always getting the freshest dish possible.Calamari-2-550X550px

6:06PM EST: We fry the calamari for a little under a minute at a 350-degree temperature. There’s a saying when cooking calamari that you either cook it for more than an hour (like with soup) or less than a minute; reason being that any time in between will result in chewy squid.

After frying, we put our calamari on a tray with a paper towel to absorb some of the oil. Then we plate it with your choice of sauce – our housemade marinara or spicy Italian pepper and lemon butter sauce. I like both sauces, but tonight I’m going with marinara.Calamari-3-550X550pxCalamari1-550X550px

6:12PM EST: Now we’ll get into three of our entrees. First up is our delicious 6oz sirloin and lobster ravioli all on one plate. When we start making this dish, we season the steak with our proprietary blend of salt, pepper, garlic and oregano.

6:15PM EST Then we place the sirloin on our wood-fired grill and add our signature grill baste, which is made up of olive oil and 14 herbs and spices. A baste is similar to a marinade, but rather than soaking the meat for hours, you brush it on while grilling.

This steak we’re cooking to medium temperature. Cooking time for steaks varies by thickness, size and placement on the grill. It’s definitely a technique that can take some time to build. I’ve been cooking steaks for about 23 years, and it took me 6 years to perfect my skills. Best way to tell the temperature of a steak is by feeling its texture: the softer, the more rare and the firmer the more well done.

6:18PM EST: As the steak cooks on the wood-fired grill, we’re also getting the seasoned vegetable ready, which is classic green beans and carmelized onions with olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper.

The green bean growing season is during summer, but they’re available year-round. I actually pick green beans from my grandmother’s farm in Texas toward the end of summer.  SirloinLobsterRavioli-3-550X550px

6:21PM EST: Next up is the lobster ravioli! We boil the ravioli while heating up our white wine cream sauce in a sauteed pan. Once the raviolis are done, we add them to the sauce and then top everything with diced tomatoes. The sauce actually has a sherry wine in it that gives it both depth and flavor.

6:24PM EST: Now for the best part, once everything is done we put it all together on one plate and bring it to your table for you to enjoy bite by bite. Are you drooling yet?

Aside from the taste, another great thing about this dish is it’s now available at your local Carrabba’s for just $13.99! If you’re tempted, you could actually order it to go right now.

6:27PM EST Now onto our second entrée: Filet Spiedino. Spiedino is the Italian word for skewer, and we load ours up with shrimp and scallops coated with Italian breadcrumbs.

6:30PM EST: Then we get our USDA Choice center-cut tenderloin filet ready for grilling by adding our proprietary spice blend and grill baste.

6:33PM EST: Next up, the grill. We use oak and pecan wood for our grill, and most of it is locally sourced for all our restaurants. These types of wood are great because they lend good flavor, and they’re hard woods, which means they burn longer.

We cook the Spiedino for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. When you build skewers, you want to make sure your meats are at the same thickness so their cook times are similar. You also want to make sure to always oil your grill before placing meat on it. This way you can get nice grill marks, and your meats won’t stick to the grill.

6:36PM EST: The last piece of this dish is the side: Cavatappi Amatriciana. We actually import this noodle from Italy, and it literally translates to corkscrew in Italian. This corkscrew shape is perfect for holding on to a thicker sauce.

6:39PM EST: We first boil our Cavatappi and then heat up the Amatriciana Sauce. This sauce is a Roman sauce, and it consists of caramelized onion, pancetta, tomatoes, salt, pepper and red crushed pepper. Once the Cavatappi is ready, we add it to the sauce. Unlike a flat noodle, each curve of the Cavatappi can hold on to the sauce so you get the right amount of flavor with every bite.


6:42PM EST: Now it’s time to bring everything together on one plate. The rule for plating is hot food, hot plate and cold food, cold plate. We always serve our dishes on a hot plate so it doesn’t affect the temperature of the food. To finish this dish off, you just need to top the Spiedino with our signature lemon butter sauce.

6:45PM EST: Now onto one of our favorite seafood dishes: Mahi Wulfe. We start off by breading the Mahi with Italian breadcrumbs. This is the same blend that we use for our Spiedino.

6:48PM EST: We then place the Mahi on the grill. The grilling time still depends on thickness. For this one we did 4 minutes on each side. Fish is more delicate than steak or chicken so when you’re grilling it, make sure to use a spatula rather than tongs.

6:51PM EST: As the Mahi is grilling, we also start to cook the green beans with onions and then the lemon butter sauce with sundried tomatoes and artichokes. Our sundried tomatoes actually come from Turkey, and our artichokes come from Spain.

6:54PM EST: The finishing touches for this dish are just topping the Mahi with the lemon butter sauce, sundried tomatoes and artichokes. If you’re looking for a new favorite, this dish is definitely what you should try.

6:57PM EST: Now on to the grand finale – dessert! For this menu, we’re featuring our indulgent, but Under 600 Calorie dessert – Mini Cannoli. We start this dish off by coating a plate with zig zags of chocolate sauce. MiniCannoli-5-550X550px

7PM EST: Then we take two crisp mini pastry shells and stuff them with our sweet ricotta and chocolate chip filling.

7:03PM EST: And then to finish it all off, we top the cannoli with crushed pistachios and powdered sugar. Perfect size to satisfy your sweet tooth while not breaking your calorie bank.


7:06PM EST: Well there ya’ll have it! We hope to see you very soon at your local Carrabba’s trying out one of these delicious dishes. To see more of what’s on our Italian Surf & Turf Menu, click here.

I also really enjoyed reading and answering all your questions. Thanks so much for your time, and until next time! Ciao ya’ll!