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.
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.