Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta: Leftover Mania!!!

October 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

Going out of town + random leftovers in the fridge = time for Maya style cooking. a.k.a., throwing a bunch of stuff together and seeing what happens.

When I studied abroad in Australia, the last night I literally threw everything from my food cabinet together in a pan…and it was awesome. It’s my favorite way to cook. I actually hate to follow recipes- just like I hate to get directions (including GPS) or get help with things I know I can do singlehandedly. In high school, my mom was the #1 Most Wanted Math Tutor. She’d always get sad because “she helped everyone else’s kids but her own daughter wouldn’t let her help.” It’s just so much more fun to me to figure it out on my own 🙂

Figuring it out on my own last night, I was able to use up: the last bit of heavy cream left over from this that had been sitting in the fridge for months, a zucchini that just appeared out of nowhere, 2 half eaten bell peppers getting close to being ready to put on scary Halloween faces, and some cooked chicken breasts left over from a Chicken Marsala dish I will post soon. I also learned how to make white sauce by experimentation- woohoo! And it was so delicious the husband said he could eat it by the pound- and he is not a leftover kind of guy.

This version was fairly mild since I didn’t know how it was going to turn out. Don’t be afraid to use extra cajun spice, and to put some in the sauce as well.

Ingredients

  • Veggies, cut thin. I used 1 zucchini, half a green bell pepper, and half a red bell pepper
  • Appx 3 chicken breasts, cooked or raw, diced
  • 3 tsp cajun seasoning or more
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp onion powder (unless you are using real onions)
  • cooking oil
  • 2.5 T butter
  • 2.5 T flour
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup milk (you can use all cream- 2/3 was all we had left)
  • salt
  • grated hard white cheese- I used 3/4 cup of Pecorino Romano
  • oregano (optional)
  • green onions (optional)
  • ~6 cups of cooked pasta- you can use more or less
Recipe

{veggies, oil, 2 tsp cajun seasoning, garlic}

In a container with a lid, toss your cut veggies with oil and cajun seasoning. Let them sit like that for about to minutes. Mince your garlic, and then fry it in a little bit of oil with the onion powder.  Add your veggies to the garlic and saute them until they are very soft- this could take a while.

{chicken, 1 tsp cajun seasoning, oil}

Meanwhile (you can use the same container you used for the veggies) toss the chicken with oil and 1 tsp of cajun seasoning. Let it marinate until the veggies are done. When the veggies are done, take them out from the pan and put them in a dish, cover them, and place in the microwave to keep warm. I used a large Pyrex dish with a cover, so I could serve, reheat, and store in the same bowl. If water takes a while to boil in whatever pot you cook pasta in, start boiling it now. Add a little oil to the pan, and brown your chicken. If you used raw chicken, brown it and cook it through. When your chicken is done, add it to the dish with the veggies. Re-cover it and put it in the microwave.

{butter, flour, cream, milk, oregano, salt, cheese}

Melt your butter. Whisk in the flour, whisking the whole time. This will make a roux. Keep whisking for 1-2 minutes. Add your cream and milk, whisking constantly.  You can neglect it for a little while at a time, to go tend to the chicken or whatever, but make sure you whisk it pretty often.  After the mixture has thickened a little, add your cheese.  When the cheese has melted and you have a deliciously thick, creamy sauce, add salt to taste and oregano (or other spices).  Keep this sauce on low, whisking occasionally.

When your pasta is done, drain it and add it to the veggie/chicken dish.  I figured out if you take the whisk from the white sauce and swirl it around in the hot pasta, all those delicious bits of sauce don’t go to waste.  Add the rest of your sauce to the pasta (I used a spatula to get every last delicious drop) and mix everything together.  Serve with green onions if you’d like.

So, I painstakingly stood on a chair, used Andrew’s nice camera with the nice flash he got me for my birthday, and tried very hard to take a picture of this dish. My picture is below- not baaaadd. Then, Andrew takes out his new iPhone 4s, and just spontaneously takes the photo at the top of this post. So unfair. That Steve Jobs thought of everything.

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