Pasta – one of the staples in my household; it always pop up in the weeknight menu more often than not. I am constantly battling the idea between having it done with red or white; tomato (the former) or creamy (the latter). So one day, I read this great awesome recipe – which combines the red and the white and no longer I have this debate in my head. This great and brilliant recipe by Pioneer Woman whom I follow avidly; called Cajun Chicken Pasta dish, marries both tomato and cream to create this amazing tomato based cream sauce. So good, I tell you…. that you have to drop everything and go make it right away! The other highlight of this dish is the Cajun spice – which is a tangy flavoured spice, slightly spicy but more smokey (if you opt for smoked paprika) so it really helps to cut through that cream overdosed situation (I called it “Jelak” in Malay language, but I don’t think there’s a direct English translation/word for it!). You can make your own Cajun spice, or just get the store bought one like from Masterfood. Also, I find that Farfelle pasta goes well with the creamy sauce because the little pinch in the middle of the bowtie help to “trap” the sauce hence you get the sauce in each mouthful.
To make a great pasta dish on the stove is very much like stir fry; the ingredients must be readied beforehand. It takes coordination skill to time the cooking of pasta till al-dente and cooking the other ingredients to make the sauce, and then add the pasta into the sauce just before serving. Normally, I will start boiling the water for the pasta, when it start boiling, you pop on the skillet onto the stove and start cooking the ingredients for the sauce, adding one by one. Or, you can do like what Jamie Oliver advice for 15 minute meals – pre-boil the water using kettle so you have hot water ready instead of waiting for the water to boil on the stove.
Clockwise left to right to center(Butter, creme fraiche, olive oil, farfelle, sliced red capsicum, red onion, cajun, chicken marinated with cajun spice, sliced mushroom, chopped tomatoes, garlic and chopped spring onion)
- 2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into cubes
- 3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, more to taste
- 300gm Farfelle
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And sliced
- 1/2 whole Large Red Onion, sliced
- 2 cups fresh Mushrooms, sliced
- 2-3 sprigs spring onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
- 4 whole Roma Tomatoes, diced
- 200ml Creme Fraiche (I used Bulla)
- Dash of salt and pepper, to taste
- Dash of smoked paprike, to taste (optional, if you prefer smoky flavour)
- Marinate the chicken with cajun spice. Reserve approximately 1 1/2 teaspoon of cajun spice for cooking later on.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente; do not overcook.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.
- Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add garlic and stir fry till fragrant. Then add peppers and red onions. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and mushrooms, and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Add 1 to 2 tablespoon of the water from the boiled pasta. Add the chopped spring onions. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, smoked paprika and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be slightly spicy.
- Finally, add chicken to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained farfelle and toss to combine.