I won't lie, this recipe has quite a few steps. You first need to pound, bread and fry the chicken, then make the vegetable sauce and cook the pasta. But I'll tell you what- it is worth it! Make this on a day when you don't have much going on and then maybe invite some friends for dinner, because this makes a lot. I used my Cajun seasoning in this recipe, and my husband claims it's now among his favorite dishes. I hope you give it a try!
Cajun Penne with Chicken
1 box (16 oz) Penne pasta (or similar), cooked
4 chicken breasts, butterflied (making 8 pieces total)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 of an onion, chopped (I used purple, any onion is fine)
2 cups chopped mushrooms (about 8-10 crimini mushrooms)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup chicken broth
7 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (or to taste)
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water
Panko bread crumbs, for dredging
Eggs, beaten, for dredging
Flour, for dredging
Butter, for frying (about 12 tablespoons)
Oil, for frying (about 12 tablespoons)
1. First, prepare the chicken. Sprinkle each piece of chicken, front and back, with about 1/2 teaspoon (total) of the Cajun seasoning and a light sprinkling of salt. Wrap one piece of chicken in plastic wrap and pound the meat with a meat mallet or a rolling pin until the meat is about 1/2 inch in thickness. Then do the same with the rest of the chicken pieces. Prepare breading station: add flour to one dish, beaten eggs to a second dish and panko bread crumbs to a third. Dredge each piece of chicken, front and back, in the flour first, then the beaten egg, then the panko bread crumbs. Lay out the chicken pieces on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment (try not to overlap the chicken).
2. In a large pot with high sides (to help prevent splatter), add 3 tablespoons oil and 3 tablespoons butter. When butter has melted, add 3 or 4 chicken pieces (do not overcrowd). Fry on both sides until meat is cooked through (color should be deep golden brown on the breadcrumb coating), about 3-5 minutes per side. Continue with the remaining chicken, add butter and oil as needed. Cover and set aside.
3. Wipe the large pot with a paper towel to remove any left-behind breadcrumbs- no need to wash the pot. (At this time, you can make the pasta in a separate pot as per package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water when the pasta is done cooking).
4. Add 4 tablespoons butter and 4 tablespoons oil to the pot you wiped clean. When butter has melted, add the chopped bell peppers, chopped onion and chopped mushrooms. Cook about 6-8 minutes, mixing occasionally, then add 1 teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning. Cook for one more minute, then add chicken broth and heavy cream. Let this come to a simmer (do not boil). Turn off the heat and add the cooked pasta, chopped parsley and chopped green onion. Mix until well combined.
5. Top the pasta with sliced breaded chicken and more herbs for garnish, if desired. Enjoy.
Recipe adapted from Twisted Food
All content is my own unless otherwise stated.