"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all." ~Harriet van Horne


Sunshine Chicken – My Inaugural Post

Published by: Kathy

  • May
  • 1

Whenever I eat something I like at a restaurant, the first thing I want to do is recreate it at home. The “copy-cat” websites are pretty good when it comes to the chain restaurant menus.

I can usually find a few versions of the recipes I am looking for and then, with a little mix and match, and a lot of trial and error, I can usually come up with a winner. But what happens when the restaurant is of the local variety? That’s when I have to rely on my taste buds and instincts to come up with a recipe that remotely resembles what I am trying to duplicate.

The recipe in my inaugural blog post is an original recipe, but was inspired by a dish served at the Columbia Café at Channelside. It was a “special” one Monday night and my husband and my son both ordered it. The entree was called “Chicken Manchego”. The recipe wasn’t listed in either of my Columbia Restaurant cookbooks, so the challenge was on! Our server, Leticia, did a great job of describing the dish. Little did she know I was mentally taking notes…Details I wrote down as soon as I got home, just so I would be able to remember the key components of the recipe. The boneless chicken breast was coated in Cuban bread crumbs, pan fried and served with a citrus butter. It was then topped with melted Manchego cheese fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes. After preparing this dish, I was struck by the fact that, though the name of the dish would lead you to be believe otherwise, the Manchego cheese was not the focal point of the recipe (I actually elminated the cheese the second time I made this dish)…In my opinion, the citrus butter sauce is the star…The sauce is velvety smooth and tart, with just the right amount of pucker…When it hits the palate, it’s like having a mouth full of sunshine! 

I offer you “Sunshine Chicken”, my version of Chicken Manchego…it turned out amazing. My husband admitted that he thought it was even better than the Columbia’s…Wow! Not bad for my first try!!  I will add a disclaimer:  This is a complicated dish.  It’s not that the skill level is high, it’s  that there are several components to preparing it.  Things work much better for me, when I have an extra set of hands in the kitchen.  My husband takes charge of seasoning, breading and cooking the chicken.  This leaves me free to work my magic on the sauce and any side dishes I am preparing.


Citrus Butter Sauce

  • 1/2 c. fresh squeezed lime juice
  •  1 c. orange juice
  • 1/4  c. water
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  •  1/4 c. shallots, chopped
  •  2 T. Dijon mustard
  •  1/3 c. sherry wine
  •  salt and pepper to taste
  •  1 stick butter, cut into 4 pieces
  •  1 T. cornstarch
  •  2 T. sherry wine
  • 5  sun-dried tomates, cut into slivers

In a medium saucepan, combine lime juice, orange juice, water, sugar, shallots, Dijon mustard, sherry wine, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer until reduced by half, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat; add butter pieces one at a time, whisking until melted. Mix the cornstarch with the 2 tablespoons of sherry to make a slurry. Add the slurry a little at a time, to the citrus butter sauce, mixing well. If you feel you have the correct thickness, do not add all of the slurry, as the sauce will get too thick.  Allow mixture to simmer until thick and bubbly. Add sun-dried tomatoes to the sauce and stir.  Set aside and keep warm.  (If the sauce gets too thick while it sits, just add a little more water,)

  •  6 boneless chicken cutlets, pounded thin
  •  8 cloves garlic, mashed
  •  salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 eggs
  •  3 cups seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  •  1 stick butter
  • 1/2  c. olive oil
  •  8 fresh basil leaves, julienned
  •  6 slices Manchego cheese (optional)

Season chicken with salt, pepper and crushed garlic. Beat eggs with 2 tablespoons of water. Dip chicken into egg mixture and then roll in panko. Be sure to press chicken into the breadcrumbs to make sure it is coated well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Heat butter and olive oil in large skillet and fry chicken until it is golden brown (at least 3 minutes on each side). If you are going to use the cheese, remove chicken to a glass baking dish, and top each piece with a slice of Manchego. Place baking dish in a 350˚ oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Spoon citrus butter sauce over chicken and top with fresh basil . Serve Immediately.

This recipe was inspired by Chicken Manchego served at the Columbia Café at Channelside, in Tampa, Florida.



3 Responses to Sunshine Chicken – My Inaugural Post

    • admin
    • 04 Jun, 2011
    • at 8:49 AM
    • I just wanted you to know that I prepared Sunshine Chicken last night and it was deeeeeelicious!!

      Maria Rumore

    • Reply
    • That is my fav at the Columbia! Can’t wait to try your version!!!

    • Reply
    • iris
    • 25 May, 2016
    • at 10:45 AM
    • Just wanted to thank you for recreating the Sunshine chicken; it is my husband’s favorite dish and I was going to try to recreate it from what I thought was in it. Now thanks to you I have the recipe. Thank you! iris

    • Reply

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