This monthly cooking series features husband and wife team Barry and Kelley Courter.
BARRY SAYS: When Kelley and I met, we were both working at The Gazebo, a former restaurant on Georgia Avenue that, back in the day, was one of the poshest in town. Our being there had nothing to do with it being highfalutin, mind you, but it was the place where people who knew fine dining went to eat.
One of the most popular dishes at The Gazebo was Chicken Oscar. The chicken made it a familiar and safe dish for some, while the Béarnaise sauce and crab meat made it fancy. It also tasted really good.
We started talking about our February dish a couple of weeks ago, and we had Valentine's Day in mind. After a couple of family powwows, it was decided that the way to go would be a dish that was both fancy and relatively easy to make for the semi-experienced cook looking to impress a significant other.
Chicken Oscar is that dish.
KELLEY: Ahh, treating your someone special. Valentine's Day is one of those holidays where special planning is necessary. You can break the bank finding ways to gather all the right items he/she may think is romantic, or you can pay special attention in letting that person know just how much you care. Bottom line: You want to impress your significant other.
When we were thinking about this menu, I wanted to make this something a college student or young professional could prepare quickly. This dish can be made with farm-raised chicken, but we decided to make this one simple. When working at The Gazebo, my favorite Oscar dish was made with veal. We also used king crab legs, and we made the Béarnaise sauce from scratch daily. You could also make the Oscar with beef tenderloin.
I love going out to a nice restaurant, but for Valentine's Day it just seems to make more of a statement when you are preparing the food. After all, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, right?
By the way, you might notice that we do not have any sweet items in our monthly stories. We don't eat a lot of sugar in our household, and I'll admit that I am not a pro at baking. We have included a recipe here for chocolate-covered strawberries. After tasting my berries, though, I would suggest a purchase from one of the local candy shops.
BARRY: The berries were fine, and so was the dish. Kelley didn't mention it here, but she spent a good deal of time and effort on the crab, which made a big difference.
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 sliced green onions
2 cloves garlic
1 container crab meat (we used crab fingers)
Black pepper, to taste
1 package steam-in-bag asparagus spears (prepare according to package directions)
1 bag frozen Southern-style breaded chicken tenderloins (prepare according to package directions)
1 container grape tomatoes
1 package Knorr Swiss Béarnaise Sauce Mix (prepare according to package directions)
Sauté butter with bell pepper and onions. Smash the garlic. Add it and the crab meat to the pepper mixture. Season to your liking.
When ready to assemble, place asparagus on a plate, followed by two chicken tenderloins, crab meat and several tomatoes. Top with Béarnaise sauce and serve.
Dark chocolate-chip morsels
Melt dark chocolate according to directions on package. Dip strawberries, and place on parchment paper to harden. Drizzle with melted butterscotch morsels, and sprinkle with crushed smoked almonds. Serve on plate after chocolates have hardened, and garnish with more almonds.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...