On the off chance that you don’t have enough decadence planned for your Thanksgiving festivities, I recommend indulging in this delicious Cajun pasta. I actually made this a few weeks ago. Usually, my intrinsic motivation can tolerate about a one-week delay between cooking and writing. I rarely retrieve the necessary motivation to write outside of that timeline, but this pasta defied my usual patterns. I had to share it; it was that good.
Those clowns at the Food Network have come up with yet another enticing gimmick: a show called The Best Thing I Ever Made. A smattering of “Food Network Stars” use their licentious foodie language and provide recipes for delectable items like lamb kebabs, mushroom polenta and… blackened chicken pasta. It’s a Guy Fieri recipe: blacked chicken, tossed with fettuccine and a cream sauce, flavored with white wine, garlic, and sundried tomatoes. Guy Fieri is a goof, but charming in his own dorky way. His pasta is as lush and tasty as you might imagine creamy pasta to be. I added some tomato puree to the sauce for some acidity and color, and I would definitely recommend that addition (included in my version of the recipe below). I used canned tomato sauce (which is really just tomato puree with some spices). The quantities specified below are approximations, but do what looks and tastes right to you.
The best part of this recipe is the spice rub. Not only is it delicious, but it is so much fun to make. I don’t understand why I found its assembly so enjoyable, but I grinned like a fool throughout. The process is simple: measure and dump spices in a bowl, enjoying the aromas and colors along the way. Then chicken breasts are coated with the rub, and placed them in a very hot pan. The smell of the spice rub searing on the chicken is intoxicating. I think the primary culprits contributing to the smell are the cumin and the Italian herb blend, but I’m sure every ingredient plays its part. The spice rub did not render the dish particularly spicy. This may be exactly what you want to hear, or you may want to add an extra teaspoon of cayenne, if the news of the mildness is disappointing. Or, you can do what I did: season the whole pasta dish at the end with hot pepper flakes. Either way, finish it with plenty of Parmesan cheese and enjoy.
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
½ tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons granulated onion
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon chili powder
Combine the garlic, black pepper, salt cumin, onion, cayenne pepper, Italian seasoning, paprika and chili powder in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container.
Blackened Chicken Pasta (recipe adapted from Guy Fieri)
2 skinless chicken breasts (½ to ¾ pounds)
Blackening Spice Rub
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups canned tomato sauce
½-¾ cup roughly chopped marinated sun-dried tomatoes
½ pound fettuccine
¾ cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hot pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat a medium skillet and vegetable oil over high heat.
Dredge the chicken breasts in the Blackening Spice Rub. Place in the skillet. Blacken both sides of the chicken, 3-4 minutes per side.
Transfer the chicken to a baking dish and place in the oven until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 10-15 minutes.
Remove from the oven, allow to rest, then slice the chicken.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and lightly sauté it for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the wine. Allow it to reduce by half. Pour in the heavy cream and tomato sauce, bring to a simmer and cook until for about 5-10 minutes, simmering gently. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and chicken slices.
Meanwhile, cook the fettuccine al dente, according to the package directions. Drain.
When the cream sauce is at the desired consistency, stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, pasta, and about ¾ of the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper (and hot pepper flakes, if using).
To serve, toss the pasta with the cream sauce. Garnish with the parsley and the remaining ¼ cup Parmesan.