Cajun Chicken Pasta


There is one reason, and one reason only for going to Chili’s: Cajun. Chicken. Pasta.

I’ve been obsessed with this pasta for as long as I can remember, which is far enough back to know that my uncultured mouth couldn’t handle the heat and would ask for the seasoning on the side.

There are certain recipes I try not to recreate, because it makes my dining out experiences less than exciting. This was one I had steered clear of for a while, but I finally decided to go for it. Sorry Chili’s, I won’t be needing you for a while!

RECIPE

Prep Time  15 minutes

Cook Time  40  minutes

Serves 4 people 

Ingredients

Pasta
  • 16 oz Penne Pasta
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil, divided
  • 2 Boneless, Skinles Chicken Breasts, tenderized
  • 6 Tbsp Butter (About 3/4 Stick)
  • 1/2 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 4-6 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 Lemon, Juiced
  • 1/4 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan
  • 1-2 tbsp flour
Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika (regular is fine, too)
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Parsley Flakes
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne (More or less, depending on your spice preference.)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 2 tbsp flour (for seasoning chicken)
For Serving
  • 2 Roma Tomatos, Diced
  • 1 Stalk Green Onion, Chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well, saving about 1/4 cup pasta water for later.
  2. In a medium small mixing bowl, whisk to gether ingredients for cajun seasoning. Separate seasoning into halves, pouring one half in a Gallon Ziploc bag. In the Ziploc bag, add two tbsp flour to the seasoning mixture. Shake well to combine. Baste tenderized chicken breasts with 1 tbsp Olive Oil, and add to the Ziploc bag with the seasoning. Shake until the chicken is evenly coated.
  3. In a large skillet, heat remaining Olive Oil over medium-high heat. Place each chicken breast in the pan, and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until internal temperature has reached 165 degrees. Set aside and keep warm.
  4. Melt your butter in the skillet, scraping up any brown bits. (Pro-Tip: If you have a significant amount of brown bits in the pan after cooking the chicken, add a splash of white wine or lemon juice – the acidity will pull it right off!)
  5. Add diced onion to the pan, and cook until translucent – about 3 minutes.
  6. Next, add in minced garlic and cook until fragrant – about 45 seconds.
  7. Reduce heat to Medium, and gradually whisk in lemon juice and heavy cream. Cook for 2-3 minutes, whisking slowly until the ingredients are incorporated.
  8. Fold in Parmesan and remaining seasoning and cook for another 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly. If the mixture is too thick, add more heavy cream as needed; if too think, add flour one tablespoon at a time until desired thickness is achieved.
  9. Stir in pasta and reserved pasta water and toss to combine.
  10. Serve sliced chicken breast over a bed of pasta, topped with diced tomato, sliced green onion and a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan.

Tips

  1. All of the seasonings combined are equal to 2 tbsp cajun seasoning.
  2. The best way I have found to tenderize my chicken breasts is to lay them out on a cutting board, cover them with a piece of plastic wrap, and pound until the breasts are thinned out evenly. Tenderizing isn’t absolutely necessary, but since we are frying the breasts in this recipe it will aid in making sure the chicken cooks evenly.
  3. If you don’t already have one, you I highly recommend that you invest in a sauce whisk! They are the best for mixing sauces – so much better than the traditional whisk! I believe mine is from Pampered Chef, but I can’t find it on their website. This one from Williams Sonoma looks like a great alternative, or you can find them on Amazon by searching “sauce whisk” or “spiral whisk”.

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