Cajun Chicken Pasta
This Cajun chicken pasta has Penne that’s smothered in a savory Parmesan cream sauce and topped with Blackened Cajun chicken and diced tomatoes. It tastes just like the classic dish from Chili’s restaurant!
I think that I could make Cajun Chicken Pasta in my sleep, I really do. I love how the flavors come together in this meal, especially because you prepare the sauce in the same delicious pan that you sear/blacken the chicken in.
Cast Iron Skillets definitely conduct the heat best and I highly recommend using one, especially for searing meat.
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, the chicken.
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 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.
The Secret to Creamy Alfredo Sauce
–Shred the cheese yourself. Buy your cheese in blocks whenever possible and shred it at home. It will taste better, and it will definitely melt better.
–Let the cheese come to room temperature. Room temperature cheese melts so much better.
-Sprinkle flour over the cheese prior to adding it to the warm base. This helps to thicken the water that separates from the cheese once it begins to heat up.
-Reduce the heat of the base before you add the cheese. If the liquid is too hot, the fat from the cheese will separate too quickly and the consistency will be grainy or clumpy.
–Add the cheese gradually as opposed to all at once. Stir to combine as you do so.
-This pasta should be refrigerated and is best if eaten within 3 days.
-Creamy pastas don’t freeze/reheat too well as the consistency of the sauce changes in the process, but you can certainly freeze leftovers if you aren’t too picky, I do it all the time!
Kitchen Tools I Use For This Recipe
⭐PRO Tip: Don’t cook the penne too far in advance. Penne is very sticky immediately after it’s cooked and it will absorb the sauce much better if it’s mixed with the sauce right after it’s been drained.
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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
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour separated
- 1 + 1/3 cups half and half
- 1 + 1/3 cups shredded Parmesan cheese plus more to garnish
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Salt/Pepper to taste
- 1-2 Roma tomatoes diced
- Fresh parsley chopped, to garnish
Shred the Parmesan cheese and set aside. It should be at room temperature when you add it to the pan.
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, use kitchen tongs to add the chicken to the pan. 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 likely 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 10 minutes. Do not clean the pan.
Begin boiling the penne according to package instructions. Proceed in preparing the sauce while it boils.
Melt the butter in the same skillet over medium heat.
Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan to release some of the black/brown chicken bits, this will give the sauce extra flavor.
Whisk in ONE tablespoon of the flour and let it heat for 60 seconds, stirring continuously.
Temper the half and half by heating it in the microwave for 30 seconds.
Slowly add the half and half to the pan along with the lemon juice and cook for 2 minutes. Continue to whisk if there are any clumps of flour. They will eventually dissolve.
Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of flour onto the Parmesan cheese and toss to coat.
Reduce the heat to low. Gradually whisk in the Parmesan cheese, stirring continuously until the sauce is thick and well-combined.
Use a silicone spatula to gently mix in the penne.
Top the pasta with the diced tomatoes and the chicken. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese if desired along with parsley, and serve!
⭐PRO Tip: Don't cook the penne too far in advance. Penne is very sticky immediately after it's cooked and it will absorb the sauce much better if it's mixed with the sauce right after it's been drained.