Sunday, July 4, 2010

Cajun Chicken Pasta

I used to order cajun chicken pasta every time I went to Chili's. We don't each out much anymore, but I try to resist getting it when we do go there. Pasta already has a lot of calories, so adding heavy cream just isn't an option at our house. I would want to make it every week. This original recipe (link below) had heavy cream, but we still like it with 1% milk/cornstarch. The pioneer woman has a good recipe for cajun chicken pasta as well, with of course, heavy cream. I think less than 10% of her recipes have no butter/heavy cream. :o( You can still substitute the cream with 1% milk/cornstarch. The main difference between her recipe and this one is that there is also chicken broth and white wine in hers. Here is the recipe for what is pictured above. My version of Ree's is below as well.

Cajun Chicken Pasta
Adapted from


12 oz rotini, cooked according to package
2 Tbsp butter (or olive oil)
2 skinnless, boneless chicken breast halves, sliced 1/2" thick
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp cajun seasoning, or to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt, to taste
1 cup milk (we used 1%)
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Cook rotini (or similar pasta) according to package directions. Drain; set aside. Melt butter (or olive oil) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. (We like to cook the chicken on the George Forman, seasoned with lemon pepper and Tony's.) Add garlic and onions. Cook for a few minutes. Add cajun/creole seasoning, cayenne pepper, salt, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Stir to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover; Stir 1 Tbsp cornstarch into 1 cup milk. Once the cornstarch is dissolved, stir in the milk mixture and let simmer another 2 minutes. Take off heat and stir in parmesan cheese. Stir in cooked pasta. You may need to let sit for a few minutes to let the pasta absorb the sauce and thicken.

*Note from Ree's recipe: Be aware of whether or not your Cajun spice contains salt. If it does not, you’ll need to lightly salt both the chicken and the veggies. If it does contain salt, be careful not to overdo it; stop a little short, then just add more cayenne to make sure you get enough spice without oversalting.

**Sandy Hern took this picture on her awesome camera. You can see more of her photos on her son in law's website.

If you like to cook with wine, here is the Pioneer Woman's recipe. We like it better than the above recipe. (I buy the four little white wine bottles at Kroger when they are on sale. I'm not big on wine, but chardonnay is good with this pasta.)

Cajun Chicken Pasta
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 Tbsp cajun seasoning, more to taste
16 oz pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter (can be left out)
1/2 large red onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup 1% milk
2 Tbsp cornstarch
Parmesan, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
salt, to taste (optional)
black pepper, to taste (optional)
fresh parsley, to taste (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente.

Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces (I like to cook the breasts whole and chop it up when after it's cooked). Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.

Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Remove all vegetables from the pan.

With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in the milk/cornstarch mixture, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until sauce starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy!

Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained pasta and toss to combine. Top with parmesan and chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

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