Cajun Chicken Pasta
This Cajun chicken pasta is loaded with perfectly cooked Penne that’s smothered in a savory Parmesan cream sauce and topped with Blackened Cajun chicken and diced tomatoes.
Hmmm… this is my second Cajun Chicken recipe in a row, and I think I’m in love. Last week, I posted a recipe for Cajun Chicken Tacos (I’ve never seen my husband wolf anything down like those suckers.) Now, I’ve conjured up some Cajun chicken pasta. I could eat a whole bucket of it man. A whole, stinking, bucket. Not that people really serve food in buckets, but if they did, I would eat it. All of it.
There are a few go-to moves that I’ve learned in order to ensure that you cook the most flavorful pasta dishes at home. (Like this Creamy Tomato Spinach Pasta, or this Tortellini Al Forno.) First, creamy Parmesan sauce is always delicious and you can’t go wrong. Period. Not a very technical point, but it needed to be said. The second thing to note, is that searing or blackening chicken in the same pan that you’re going to cook the sauce in creates so much flavor. That’s some restaurant stuff right there.
For this recipe, we’re going to blacken the chicken, because that’s a technique that’s very common when Cajun seasoning is involved, and because it’s delicious. Read on for what you need to know about that.
Blackened Chicken is thoroughly charred on the outside, but still juicy on the inside. It’s common for blackened chicken to be coated in a Cajun or spicy seasoning prior to being cooked. These tips will ensure that your chicken is blackened to perfection:
-Use a cast iron skillet. This conducts heat the best and can withstand the high heat for a long period of time.
-Thinner slices of meat ensures the middle cooks and not just the outside.
-Don’t toss the meat around while it cooks. Let it be in order to obtain a rich, colored crust on the outside.
-If the meat sticks to the pan when you attempt to lift it, it’s not even properly seared yet (and definitely not blackened).
-Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing into it, to allow the chicken to fully absorb the juices created during the cooking process.
-Ventilate the stove-top if you can, and open some windows if possible. This does create some smoke. But it’s totally worth it.
Now that we’ve entered the magical world of blackening chicken, I think it’s time to grab your skillet and do the darn thing. But before you go, you’ve gotta join my free email list to get a weekly email with my latest recipes. And what the heck, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter too. Why not! 😉
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This Cajun chicken pasta is loaded with perfectly cooked Penne that's smothered in a savory Parmesan cream sauce and topped with Blackened Cajun chicken and diced tomatoes.
- 1 large boneless skinless chicken breast
- 3 Tablespoons canola oil separated (can also use vegetable)
- 1 Tablespoons Cajun Seasoning
- ½ lb. penne pasta equal to 8 oz.
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 Tablespoon finely minced garlic or 3 fresh cloves, minced
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Salt/Pepper to taste
- 2 Roma tomatoes diced
- 3 green onions diced.
Cut the chicken breast in half to create two thinner slices, no thicker than 1/2- 3/4 inch. Pound them slightly if necessary. Place the chicken in a Ziploc bag and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil as well as the tablespoon of Cajun seasoning. Close the bag and rub the oil and seasonings generously on both sides of the chicken.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cast iron skillets produce the best result.
Once the oil is heated and glistening, add the chicken to the pan, placing the side closest to you down first. Be careful of oil splatter. Don’t touch the chicken for a good five minutes to allow the meat to sear, and even blacken a bit.
After five minutes have passed, use metal spatulas to gently lift one of the sides of the chicken. If it sticks to the pan, it’s not ready yet. If it’s reached a rich, golden brown and nearly blackened color, it’s ready to flip. Cook the other side for 4-5 minutes before touching it, if the heat is too hot, decrease it slightly.
Once the chicken is fully cooked, turn the heat off, and set the chicken aside. Do not slice until the chicken has rested for at least 10 minutes, otherwise the juice will run out onto your cutting board and your chicken will be dry. Do not clean the pan.
Cook the penne according to package instructions. Drain, and set aside.
In the same pan that you cooked the chicken in, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Use a metal spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan to release some of the black/brown chicken bits, this will give the sauce extra flavor.
Temper the half and half by heating it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Slowly pour it in to the pan along with the lemon juice and cook for 2 minutes.
Gradually whisk in the Parmesan cheese. Increase the heat slightly and bring the sauce to a very gentle bubble, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat to low. Use a silicone spatula to gently mix in the penne. Stir in the tomatoes or save them to garnish on top. Add the chicken and stir into the pasta if desired, or leave it on top of the dish. Sprinkle with diced green onions. Serve, and enjoy!