RECIPE #165, DAY #201
ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Cajun Chicken Alfredo” from Guy Fieri*
TIMING: 30 minutes
DIFFICULTY: The blackening process can be daunting, so this dish gets a slightly-above-easy rating
TOOLS: A heavy-bottomed skillet or cast iron pan and lots of normal kitchen things
COOK TYPE: Stovetop, oven
HEALTH: Yeah, it’s not a healthy one. It is homemade and all that jazz, but it is loaded with fattening ingredients, char, and pasta. Once in awhile make this for guests, and you probably won’t die.
EXPERIENCE: When I was in junior high, the place I hung out after school in the downtown of my small town was a little cafe called The Yum Yum Tree. (I’m sure we’ll talk about that again some time.) When I got to high school, my town was expanding and had just gotten a Chile’s, so that became the place to go for an after-school occasion. My favorite thing to order was the Southwest Egg Rolls. Very occasionally, when ordering a whole dinner, I would get the Cajun Chicken Pasta.
While I no longer enjoy eating at restaurants like Chile’s, I still have those food memories etched into my culinary pallette, so when I saw this recipe from Guy Fieri, I inwardly screamed, “Yes!”
It really is tremendously good.
NOTES: The main thing to know before attempting this recipe is that you need a well ventilated kitchen. Not only does the blackening produce a lot of smoke which will inevitably set off your smoke alarm, but the spices in the blackening will really irritate your (and everyone else’s) lungs. You need a killer vent on high, and it’s probably best to also open the windows. Even better yet: tick your neighbors off and cook outside on the little burner next to your grill. (Note: I do not have one of those.)
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cook 1 pound fetuccine, linguine, penne, or bucatini, or cavatappi according to package directions in a large pot of salted water.
- Preheat a cast iron skillet over the highest heat.
- In a medium mixing bowl, gently whisk together 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon ground black pepper, 1/2 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 1 teaspoon cayenne powder, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, 1 teaspoon ground herb de provence, and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder.
- Dredge 4 chicken breasts in the spice mixture. Place in the super-hot, dry skillet and cook about 2-3 minutes per side, until blackened. Remove to baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. (Internal temp should be 165F.) Tent with foil and set aside to rest.
- Meanwhile, in a clean, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add 3 cloves thin-sliced garlic and lightly brown it. Add 1/4 cup white wine and allow to come to a simmer before adding 3 cups heavy cream, 1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Bring to a simmer and reduce by half, until liquid coats the back of a spoon.
- Whisk in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Immediately add the pasta and toss.
- Serve topped with your chicken (cut on the bias), and chopped scallion.
Serve with a salad. It might make you feel better. But also lots of white wine and–in an ideal world–a chocolate dessert.
*Recipe changed from the original.