I know, I know. It’s right after the holidays, and everyone’s pants are feeling tight (am I alone in saying that?) I should be posting a recipe on some kind of Kale Smoothie or a 30 Calorie Brownie made out of ice cubes. This is the time of year that everyone hits the gym and makes healthful decisions: quit smoking, drinking, fried chicken (ugh), chocolate chip cookies (no!)
But I want to start the New Year being candid for my resolution. I honestly love to eat decadent desserts and butter laden dinners. In fact, to make my colleagues tremble, I made cinnamon buns last night:
I know–I’m cruel.
I believe that making cinnamon rolls yesterday and making Alfredo sauce today is quite metaphorical: I am representing the right eat well, and to not deprive one’s self.
And don’t get me wrong, healthful food can be very delicious. But let’s face it–there are only so many substitutes; at the end of the day, the chickpea crusted pizza just isn’t the melty, cheesy pizza delight you once knew.
Will I post recipes that are healthy? Of course, but this week, everything will be borderline gluttonous.
So let’s get back to business. I was inspired to make Cajun Chicken Alfredo for two reasons…
1.) I was just in New Orleans for New Years.
2.) I needed to make a guilty pleasure.
New Orleans will inspire me all week. Cajun food is so comforting, and I love how it blends so many cultures in one. I had a Blackened Red Grouper in a Pernod Cream Sauce that reminded me how much I love spicy fish that is cooled off with succulent cream. Oh, did I mention it came on a bed of homemade fettuccine? Oh my god. Someone please take me back!
Alfredo sauce has many variations, and I will not say that the way I make it is the only way. To make a good Alfredo sauce, you should have…
2.) Olive Oil
3.) Grated Parmigiana Cheese
To make a greater Alfredo sauce, you should add to the previous list…
1.) Egg Yolk(s)
2.) Heavy Cream
Most people put cream in their Alfredo sauce, but technically, the cheese and the butter alone could suffice as they coagulate. Some people thicken their sauce with a flour/butter roux. In my experience, incorporating all of the above makes the Alfredo that you’ll crave.
For this Alfredo, you can modify as much as your heart desires. You don’t have any bell peppers? Just throw in some broccoli (in fact, I think broccoli is my favorite vegetable compliment to Alfredo.) You don’t have chicken? You are a vegetarian? Leave it out. You have chicken but don’t like spiciness? Just salt and pepper that bad boy. You make the rules!
Cajun Chicken Alfredo with Sliced Bell Peppers and Peas
Serves: 2 (easily could be turned into 4!)
Pasta Pot and Strainer
Cast Iron Pan
Cast Iron Grill Pan
Santoku Knife (or any knife you like to cut veggies!)
Garlic Press* (not needed, but simply lovely)
Lovin’ Oven @ 350 Degrees
Two Chicken Breasts (no need to pound thinly)
Half Box of Fettuccine
Five Mini Sweet Bell Peppers (Orange, Yellow, and Red)
Half Cup of Peas
Four Garlic Cloves
Blackened Seasoning (or you can use Chili Powder, Paprika, Granulated Garlic, Salt, Pepper, and Italian Seasoning)
Half Cup of Heavy Cream (or more if you’re feeling indulgent. Just look at the consistency, but I personally like more cheese than cream.)
Half Stick of Butter
1 cup of Parmigiana Cheese (freshly grated, if possible)
1.) Preheat your oven at 350 degrees. While the oven is heating up, season your chicken liberally with blackening seasoning or a blend of the spices mentioned above. Make sure you coat both sides of the chicken.
2.) Put your burner on medium high heat and place the cast iron grill pan on the burner. Make sure your pan is coated in oil (either sprayed with Pam or a light layer of Canola oil.)
3.) Once the grill pan is hot, place seasoned chicken breasts on top. Let them cook until grill marks appear, approximately 7-8 minutes. (P.S: Do not lift up the chicken; let it cook! If you pick it up pre maturely, you won’t get grill marks or the blackened crispy coloring!)
4.) While the chicken is grilling, fill your pasta pot with salty, salty water. Put your stove to high heat to get the water rolling.
5.) Don’t forget! Make sure you turned your chicken over at the appropriate time!
6.) While you’re waiting for the beautiful char to come onto the other side of the chicken, julienne (slice thinly) sweet baby bell peppers into 1/4 inch strips. The thinner, the better!
7.) On another burner with olive oil (about a tablespoon), put four cloves of garlic into a garlic press (or mince finely if you do not have a press.) While that is working, take out your chicken and put it in the oven to finish. Take out the chicken three minutes before serving.
Tip: If you have a garlic press, you don’t have to peel the garlic. Just throw the whole clove in there and the garlic will push out. Voila!
8.) Stir around garlic (make sure you do not burn it–if you burn it, throw it out and start over) with sliced peppers.
9.) Once the peppers are softened (1-2 minutes), remove them and put on the side. Try to leave most of the garlic in the pan.
10.) In the pan, melt half a stick of butter on medium heat and stir garlic around. Then add a cup of grated parmigiana. Allow the cheese to form a bond with the butter. Once the mixture thickens, slowly add half a cup of heavy cream. If it looks thin and watery, raise the heat and then drop once it comes to a boil. The cooler temperature will make the sauce thicken. Also, you can add more cheese because you’re worth it (I mean, it’s for the sauce.)
11.) Once the mixture is thickened and the pot is not too hot (very important! it should be on a lower setting), add an egg yolk and stir around well. You will see that the egg yolk will make the sauce more rich and yellow (exactly what you want.)
12.) At this point, your pasta should be done (al dente–about 12 minute). Drain your pasta and throw the pasta in the pan and toss around with tongs. Take your chicken out of the oven and let it rest (otherwise it won’t be juicy–don’t be tempted!). Once the chicken has rested, slice into strips.
13.) Once your pasta is incorporated, you may throw your peppers back in, and the peas frozen (they will cook in the sauce.) Throw in the chicken. Just don’t throw a fit when your friend tells you that you should have eaten a salad. You know better.
Bon appetit! Cheers to increased waistlines! 🙂