Creamy Cajun Chicken Penne Pot.
I have the BEST ever cure for your weekend hangover.
First, what did you do for the big old V day weekend?! Did you eat a gigantic steak smothered in blue cheese sauce? Cover yourself in flourless chocolate molten explosion sin cake? Pass out the cutest pastel purple heart cards? Try to survive in an icy blizzard-like polar vortex world? Eat a gallon of ice cream with a spoon? Still blasting a Missy Elliot playlist two weeks later? Put a seriously hot pink and coral sequined pillow on your living room couch?
I have no idea who would do that.
In good news though…
My ideal chicken pasta pot is heeeere.
Okay okay. It’s not the prettiest pot o’ chicken. It is, however, one of the best chicken meals I’ve made. Next to the dumplings, of course. I’m sort of knocking it out of the park with chicken dishes at home lately. Eddie doesn’t know what to do with himself. I warm him to not get too excited because this too shall pass: I always kill it for six or seven dishes and then, boom. Back in the boring chicken rut. Whomp whomp.
It happens to be our current favorite pasta dish – AND chicken dish. It does double duty. Eddie has always been all about cajun seasoning and while it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, this dish completely sold me. I used to be fanatical about a similar pasta dish on the menu at the Cheesecake Factory back in the day – like college years. I don’t remember the name but I ordered it every time I went, and since I’m hungrier in my life right now than I’ve ever been before, I keep remembering things that I ate in the past and desperately adored. It is so weird. It will be the middle of the night and I’ll think of enchiladas that I ate once in 2004 or a pulled pork sandwich that I had in 1999 or consider begging someone to bring my primanti bros. I’m never NOT hungry with a little nugget taking all of my calories.
It’s SO simple. I mean, there are a few different components that go into the pot, and you have to cook the chicken first, then the veggies, and the pasta, but it can still come together in an hour or less. Does that sound insane? Possibly. I realize that telling you guys that you have to cook three different things for a meal to “simply” come together sounds ridiculously asinine, but if I managed to pull it off with a bouncing baby in my kitchen, it’s totally doable. Sweat I haven’t lost my marbles. Yet.
It’s also really filling and insanely flavorful. Like I don’t know when the last time was that I made this flavorful of a pasta dish. But then again I can’t remember when the last time that I took a nap or ate a snack or brushed my hair or took a walk or finished a sentence or drove my car was at the moment. So take it for what it’s worth.
The best part?
We go through chicken thigh obsessions in our house every now and then are we’re currently in a deep one. I haven’t bought chicken breasts in WEEKS because uh hello, the boneless, skinless thighs taste so much better, and since I was making chicken and dumplings to feed a crowd, like, once a week this past month, it’s all that our fridge and meals have seen.
It makes boring chicken dishes cease to exist.
BUT! Use whatever chicken you’d like. It’s totally up to you. Because you’re going to cover it in a little flour and make it a bit crispy…
I know. I couldn’t help it. It’s so good. Just add it to the pasta near the end so it remains wildly delicious and a teensy bit crisp. FAVE.
The rest of the pasta is studded with onions and peppers and mushrooms and garlic. And spices and stuff. And a bit of cream to make it, well… creamy. And penne! I used whole wheat. That makes it a health food?
Moral of the story if that this is the perrrrfect Monday meal, especially when it’s negative sixteen degrees out. I don’t even know how that’s a thing. But it is. So let’s eat.
Creamy Cajun Chicken Pot
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
3 tablespoons cajun seasoning
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 sweet onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
12 ounces sliced mushrooms
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole wheat penne (or whatever you want) pasta, cooked
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Heat a large pot or skillet over medium-high heat. You want it to be large enough to fit the entire dish, so make sure it's big! Season the chicken with the cajun seasoning, covering it completely. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the flour and coat them thoroughly. I usually begin to heat the water for the pasta here and once it boils, add the pasta.
Add the oil and 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet. Once sizzling, add the chicken and cook until crispy and deeply browned, flipping once or twice. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes for the chicken to be cooked through. Once cooked, remove it and set it on a plate. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add 2 more tablespoons of butter to the skillet. Toss in the onions and peppers with a pinch of salt and pepper and stir well. Cook for 5 minutes, until they soften. Add in the other 2 tablespoons of butter and the mushrooms, stirring well. Cook for 5 to 6 more minutes, so the mushrooms soften. Stir in the garlic.
Increase the heat to medium-high again. Pour in the chicken stock slowly while stirring with a wooden spoon and scraping the bottom of the pot. Bring the stock to a boil and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce the heat once more and stir in the cream. Add the chicken to the pot along with the pasta. Taste and season additionally if needed. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.
[adapted from pioneer woman]
I’ll take it.