There are trends in the culinary world, just like in any other area of expertise. I like to see what things are trending in the foodie realm, and experiment with those ideas that appeal to me. Lately it’s been squash, alternative oatmeals, and now Cajun pasta.
The idea that cajun flavors marry well with cream sauces did not originally appeal to me. I had cajun pasta at a restaurant once (at my bachelorette party, actually). And it was good, but too spicy (and it had peas in it).
But cajun pastas have been popping up everywhere, and I decided to give it a try.
One thing that did not appeal to me about making this dish was the fact that every recipe for it used up a ton of dishes. I do not like doing dishes, so I scaled down the prep and cooking to just one stock pot and one large skillet.
The resulting pasta is quite possibly the best thing I’ve made in a long, long time. It has definite blackened flavors, as well as being a little spicy. I hope you enjoy it. What’ve you got to lose? Not time spent doing dishes…
Blackened Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 2 chicken breasts
- cajun seasoning
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 C. snow peas
- 1/4 C. white wine
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 2 C. milk
- 1/2 C. parmesan cheese
- 1 Lb. fettuccini pasta
Step 1: Cook the pasta until al dente, then drain it and set it aside. I backed off on the cooking time about two minutes, since the pasta spends a little time in a hot pan later on. Also I forgot to cook the pasta until I was halfway done with the meal. Don’t do that.
Chop the red pepper into small(ish) pieces. Mince the garlic and set both aside.
Step 2: Rinse and dry the chicken breasts. lay them on a plate and sprinkle them generously with cajun seasoning. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet to medium high heat. It needs to be hot before you lay the chicken on it.
Step 3: Once the skillet is hot, lay the chicken on it and let it cook for 5 minutes on one side. The idea is to get a nicely blackened surface; a cast iron skillet does this very nicely. In other words, if you don’t have one, go get a cast iron skillet. If not for the superior cooking surface, then at least pick one up for the nostalgia.
Step 4: Once the chicken is blackened on one side, flip it to the other, and cook for another 5 minutes. Then cover the skillet and finish cooking (about 10 minutes). After it is cooked through, lay the chicken on a plate to the side.
Step 5: Pour the wine into the hot chicken pan to deglaze it. Use a spoon or whisk to scrape up all the blackened bits of chicken off the bottom of the pan. Once the wine has started to reduce, add the red peppers and garlic.
Note: you should also add the snow peas. I forgot them until the end. Obviously, forgetting the pasta threw me off my game for this dish.
Step 6: Once the red peppers are tender, add the butter and flour. Stir everything around until the flour is mixed in with the wine. Then whisk in the milk.
Step 7: Let the sauce cook on medium heat until it begins to reduce. You don’t want it too thick. While it is reducing, slice the chicken into thin strips. Add one breast to the sauce, and save the other breast.
Step 8: Once the sauce is the consistency you like, add the pasta (and the snow peas, if you forgot them).
Toss everything together until it’s all coated, then let it sit on low heat for a minute to reheat. Serve hot, with the other chicken breast on top.
This dish surprised me. I used bits and pieces of some recipes, and completely threw out other bits and added stuff that I know we like. The result was something I will make repeatedly, it was that good. Plus, it makes a lovely presentation for a surprisingly little amount of work. If you’re entertaining guests that appreciate a little spice, this would not be a bad thing to serve.
Plus, the spicy pasta on a cold night keeps you warm.