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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cajun Chicken Fettucini Alfredo

I tried this wonderful recipe tonight for the family!  I found it very easy and yummy. The original comments are in black and my additions are in red. 

Cajun Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

Good stuff going on here: boneless skinless chicken breasts, Cajun blackening spice, butter, olive oil, garlic cloves, grape tomatoes, dry white wine (or chicken broth,) heavy cream (or half-and-half,) good quality, freshly grated cheeses like a blend of Asiago, Parmesan, Fontina, and herbed goat cheese, spices.
Are you in, yet? Good!

Cook fettuccine according to the package directions for “al-dente.” Pour pasta into a large colander. Immediately rinse the pasta with hot tap water to rinse off some of the excess starch so that the pasta doesn’t turn into a sticky, clumpy mass. Drain.

I actually used Angel Hair Pasta because that is what I had on hand.  However, I wished I had used the fettuccine instead.  The Angel Hair just didn't provide enough of the pasta to balance out the alfredo in this meal.

Rinse the chicken breasts in cool water, and pat dry with a paper towel.

Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap onto a clean surface, and place a chicken breast on top.

Lay another large sheet of plastic wrap on top of the chicken breast, and gently pound and flatten to an even 1/4 inch thickness. I have found the most effective way to flatten a chicken breast without completely obliterating it is to start from the center of the thickest part, and pound while working outward.

Sprinkle a hefty amount of cajun seasoning on each side of the flattened chicken, pressing to adhere. I like Chef Paul Prudhomme’s brand of blackened steak seasoning. Don’t be shy with the cajun seasoning! It’s adds a nice punch flavor that helps cut through the richness the Alfredo sauce.

I used Tony Chachere's Blackened Seasoning, which turned out really well.  I really coated the chicken pieces because this family likes things spicy!  I had a little kick to it, but it wasn't overwhelming.  Very nice!

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Also, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

The skillet is hot enough when the butter just begins to brown.

Place chicken in the pan and sear one side until it is very brown, about 3 minutes. I had 4 flattened chicken breasts, but only 3 would fit in my pan. That’s OK. I just worked in batches. If you need to do the same, and the pan seems dry before you are done, add a touch more olive oil and let it get hot.

I actually seared for 4 minutes on each side, which I found was just right if you want it to be truly blackened. 

Once the first side of the chicken is very brown, flip it over and cook the other side until very brown–about an addition 1 1/2 minutes. When the chicken has been seared on both sides, transfer it to a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, or until chicken is done, and no longer pink in the middle.
Oh! Don’t forget to turn off the heat under the skillet when you are done with it.

Slice the chicken against the grain, into thin strips. I think the longer thin strips make for a more dramatic presentation.

But since we decided to share this decadent meal with our sons, I sliced the strips again cross-wise to make bite sized pieces. It’s not as dramatic, but it did save me from eating cold pasta because I spent so much time cutting up their chicken. Win-win.
Set the chicken aside.

Give the grape tomatoes a quick rinse, and slice them in half lengthwise. Set those aside while you chop the garlic.

I did not use tomatoes because the kids have an aversion to them and I didn't use fresh garlic. It provided the same flavor and I found it ia little easier. 

My quick tip to mince garlic: peel the garlic and place a knife on top of the clove.

Hold the knife handle steady with your dominant hand. Then give the blade of the knife a quick whack with your other fist. Carefully now! Nothing ruins date night faster than a trip to the Emergency Room.

The garlic clove should be nice and flat. Smashing the garlic will also bruise it so that it can readily release its oils. Garlic oil is a very good thing.

Give the smashed garlic a quick chop. I end up running the knife across the smashed clove twice for a nice quick mince. Reheat the skillet over medium-high heat.

Pour in the white wine, and deglaze the pan by whisking all of the delicious brown bits off of the bottom of the pan. If wine is not your thing, or if you are like me and in your overzealous attempt to remove the cork you shattered off the top of the wine bottle, then chicken broth will do nicely.

Tried this with chicken broth and it did just fine.

Add the tomatoes, minced garlic, and salt & pepper to the pan. Stir and saute the mixture for a minute or two to lightly caramelize and soften. Smash the tomatoes a bit with the back of a wooden spoon.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, and pour in the cream. Give it a quick stir.

Then just for fun, add another tablespoon of butter. Continue to stir the cream mixture as it simmers for 3 to 4 minutes. The sauce will reduce slightly during this time.

Now it’s time for the best part…the cheese! Turn off the heat under the skillet, then add all of the cheeses to the pan. I like a cheese blend very similar to that used in my lasagna recipe–Asiago, parmesan, fontina, and herbed goat cheese.
The Asiago and parmesan are obvious choices for an Alfredo sauce, but I like the creaminess the fontina adds, and the complexity of the herbed goat cheese. You can go with my blend, or all parmesan, or parm & Asiago. Bottom line: use what you like, just be sure to use a full 2 cups of it. Stir the cheese into sauce until the cheese is completely melted and smooth.
Voila! Alfredo sauce! Now if it were up to me, I’d rip off chunks and crusty bread and use it scoop up the sauce, and call it dinner. But since I was feeding others, I went the more traditional route.

Pour the cooked fettuccine into the Alfredo sauce.

Toss the chicken on top of the fettuccine. By now the soon-to-be-recipients of this deliciousness are hovering in the kitchen. Tell ‘em to shoo! We are almost done.

Use a pair of tongs to toss the pasta and chicken in the Alfredo sauce until everything is evenly distributed.

This was an amazing recipe!!  The site I found the original recipe on was:  It's a great site. 

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