Monday, May 24, 2010

Boston and Ree's Cajun Chicken Pasta

My previous post asked you, dear readers, to guess where DH and I went for our first experimental vacation with baby B.

*Ding ding ding*!!! For those of you who guessed "Boston" you win the prize - i.e. bragging rights about how smart and well-traveled you are! As for the rest of you, today you're going to learn a wee bit of trivia. Boston happens to be the birthplace of America's independence, so it's got a lot for all you history buffs to enjoy. It also has Hahvahd (Harvard University) and MIT within spitting distance of each other, so my geeky academic type buddies can get their freak on. Finally, I love the food there, no matter what the internet reviews say, so fellow foodies can look forward to some big-time dear-God-this-is-good moments.

For instance, I'm very excited to share such a moment with you right now ...

See this? For many of you, this looks like something your cat would eat. WRONG! This is a divine, sublime, crave-worthy pasta dish that rocked my world. It's handmade squid-ink pasta simply cooked with ground-up grilled calamari and drizzled with olive oil. And I'm going to cry because I want it now, and there's no way for me to drive up to Boston again to get it! That pasta was perfectly al dente - chewy and earthy and perfectly seasoned. Every bite was a revelation. If you go to Boston, go to this Sicilian seafood place called The Daily Catch (their new location on the pier is fantastic) and order the Black Pasta Aglio Olio. They also happen to serve some other superb seafood, and the atmosphere is lovely, as is the service. But screw all that, I'd go back for that pasta even if it was served by dirty little gremlins!

In the meantime, I can only drown my sorrows in another pasta dish. This one I can make at home, and enjoy sharing with DH. I've noticed that Ree and I share the same taste in pasta, and so I've got another winner from her repertoire. Can't wait to share this with other P-Dub fans on the next Foodie Fans of The Pioneer Woman round-up.

Ree's Cajun Chicken Pasta (find her original take here)
Serves 4-6

Click here for printable recipe

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb fettuccine pasta
3+ tsp Cajun Spice seasoning (I just kept adding and tasting as I went along)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 green capsicum, sliced
1 red capsicum, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
3 tsp minced garlic
4 small tomatoes, diced
2.5 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp cayenne pepper / chili powder
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish

1. Sprinkle 2 tsp of the cajun spice mix over the chicken pieces, then toss to coat. Heat 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of the oil in a pan and brown the chicken over high heat. Remove from the pan and set aside.
2. Add the remaining oil and butter into the same pan, then saute the peppers, onion and garlic with more cajun seasoning, along with some salt. Do this over high heat because you want the veggies to really caramelize and start to get dark (flavor!). 3. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 secs. Pour in the chicken stock now, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the sticky bits incorporated into the sauce. Cook for 5-10 mins.

4. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in the cream. Keep whisking the saucing, and sprinkling in the spices per your taste. A dash more salt, lots of black pepper, and some chili powder too. 5. Add the chicken back, and continue to stir the sauce until the whole thing reaches a consistency you like - I just wait for the sauce to be able to coat the back of my wooden spoon.

6. Cook your pasta per the instructions on the box. Drain it and add it directly into the pan with the sauce. Turn off the heat, then toss the pasta, coating it completely with that awesome sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley/cilantro and serve.

Verdict: Guess what? No cheese needed with this pasta! You're surprised because usually all my pasta dishes are smothered in cheesy goodness - and there's nothing wrong with that! But this time, I've got a dish that's a crowd-pleaser as well as a me-pleaser. Lots of vegetables and lean protein made oh-so-delectable thanks to a zingy sauce and gorgeous pasta. This pasta comes DH-approved, so you know I'm going to be making this again and again. And again. My Nintendo Wii Fit virtual instructor is not going to like seeing that spike in my BMI again. But you can't stop love, and I love this.I think I'm also going to submit this carby work of art to the next round-up of Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by the lovely Ruth of Once Upon A Feast.


Foodiewife said...

I made this one a few weeks ago, and not only was it easy to make-- it was darn good! Squid pasta? I've seen it, but am not sure I'd gather the courage to try it. But, if given the chance, I guess I would! Glad you two lovebirds got away for a bit.

Joanne said...

I'm so proud that I guessed Boston right! I better have after living there for four years. God I miss that place.

Somehow I never went to The Daily Catch...what was I thinking?!?!?

This pasta looks fantastic. It's been on my Ree radar for a while. One of these days...

Unknown said...

Oh daaaahling, I am craving yummy foods all the time, and I do understand, I have almost been brought to tears by food too. Its totally crazy. I can get so sentimental about eating LOL.
This pasta looks wonderful. I cant say I have a chicken pasta in my repertoire, so maybe I'll try this one out.
*ksises* HH

tasteofbeirut said...

That pasta looks absolutely delicious but I would have loved the other one too with the squid; I made an octopus risotto with the ink a while back and I was so surprised at how good it was and the fact that my kids inhaled it.
Sounds like Boston was a fun trip; I like the Cambridge area and have an uncle who lives in a Victorian in Watertown, I visited him once in the winter and the snow was several feet high we could not get out of his house.

Anonymous said...

I knew it was Boston! The cajun pasta looks fantastic!

Erica said...

Fantastic pictures!Fabulous combination! I can’t wait to try this!

Jamie said...

Oooh it's been 25 years since I've been to Boston and I love that town, especially eating there! And your pasta dish looks so scrumptious and creamy. I love dishes like this!

Ruth Daniels said...

We haven't been to Boston in ages - and so yet another great reason to go - that pasta sounds awesome!

Your Cajun Chicken pasta looks great too. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

Taylor said...

I took a road trip to Boston a few years ago and absolutely loved it! Both pastas look amazing, and I'm definitely bookmarking this for the cajun chicken pasta recipe :)

SugarCooking said...

Yum! I love Cajun Chicken Pasta... I'll have to make this ASAP. Thanks for sharing!

Kristin (Book Sniffers Anonymous) said...

I really wish I had the ingredients on hand to make this because I would make if for dinner tonight if I did. The pasta looks mouthwatering good. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Nicola said...

This looks amazing, I'm always looking out for spicy pasta dishes, will definitely be trying ths out.

Funky to Fit said...

I made this tonight, but for some reason I could not get the sauce to thicken! I had to resort to adding some cornstarch. I like the flavor, hopefully
I'll have better luck next time with the sauce.