Cajun chicken fettucine Alfredo is a perfect meal for date night. There’s no need to worry about the spicy chicken or the rich cream sauce when there are no children eating.
Our four children are a blessing beyond measure. Truly they are. But having a gaggle of kids is not without sacrifice. For example, fine dining becomes the exception rather than the rule. However, having a gaggle of kids makes date night a marital necessity. We’re talking sanity, people… Sane parents are happy and effective parents.
The Bacon Slayer and I like to eat out quite often. Enjoying a table-served meal, and someone else cleaning up, is a little slice of heaven. But with babysitting running about $10 per hour, we tend to do in-house dating instead.
In-house dates usually go a little something like this: Feed the kids, get them in bed, cook a decadent meal and dessert, then dine and enjoy adult dinner conversation. There’s no fielding of endless questions, cutting only my food, no reminders of proper table manners, and no fart jokes. Pure dining bliss, without the fat check and babysitting fee at the end. I LOVE it!
Our most recent date night consisted of this Cajun chicken fettucine Alfredo:
Cajun Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo. *Swoon*
I’ve been in love with all things Alfredo since my very first bite of Michaelina’s frozen Fettuccine Alfredo. That was high livin’ college grub, but nothing compares to the real deal.
Food Dork Trivia: How did Fettuccine Alfredo get it’s name? Well, I’ll tell ya! Fettuccine Alfredo is named for Chef Alfredo di Lello who originated the pasta dish in the 1920’s. The dish typically consists of fettuccine enrobed in a rich cream sauce with butter, parmesan cheese, and lots of cracked black pepper.
My fettuccine Alfredo consists of fettuccine enrobed in a rich cream sauce with butter, 4 types of cheese, and about 4 times the usual amount of cheese. Because cheese is my life. Then just for fun, I work in cajun spiced chicken and tomatoes. Kind of kicks the whole arrangement up a few notches. I think Alfredo would approve.
Cajun Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
Good stuff going on here: boneless skinless chicken breasts, Cajun blackening spice, butter, olive oil, garlic cloves, grape tomatoes, dry white wine (or chicken broth,) heavy cream (or half-and-half,) good quality, freshly grated cheeses like a blend of Asiago, Parmesan, Fontina, and herbed goat cheese, spices.
Are you in, yet? Good!
Cook fettuccine according to the package directions for “al dente.” Pour pasta into a large colander. Immediately rinse the pasta with hot tap water to rinse off some of the excess starch so that the pasta doesn’t turn into a sticky, clumpy mass. Drain.
Rinse the chicken breasts in cool water, and pat dry with a paper towel.
Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap onto a clean surface, and place a chicken breast on top.
Lay another large sheet of plastic wrap on top of the chicken breast, and gently pound and flatten to an even 1/4 inch thickness. I have found the most effective way to flatten a chicken breast without completely obliterating it is to start from the center of the thickest part, and pound while working outward.
Sprinkle a hefty amount of cajun seasoning on each side of the flattened chicken, pressing to adhere. I like Chef Paul Prudhomme’s brand of blackened steak seasoning. Don’t be shy with the Cajun seasoning! It’s adds a nice punch flavor that helps cut through the richness the Alfredo sauce.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Also, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
The skillet is hot enough when the butter just begins to brown.
Place chicken in the pan and sear one side until it is very brown, about 3 minutes. I had 4 flattened chicken breasts, but only 3 would fit in my pan. That’s OK. I just worked in batches. If you need to do the same, and the pan seems dry before you are done, add a touch more olive oil and let it get hot.
Once the first side of the chicken is very brown, flip it over and cook the other side until very brown–about an addition 1 1/2 minutes. When the chicken has been seared on both sides, transfer it to a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, or until chicken is done, and no longer pink in the middle.
Oh! Don’t forget to turn off the heat under the skillet when you are done with it.
Slice the Cajun chicken against the grain, into thin strips. I think the longer thin strips make for a more dramatic presentation.
Since we decided to share this Cajun chicken fettucine Alfredo with our sons, I sliced the strips again cross-wise to make bite sized pieces. It’s not as dramatic, but it did save me from eating cold pasta because I spent so much time cutting up their chicken. Win-win.
Set the Cajun chicken aside.
Give the grape tomatoes a quick rinse, and slice them in half lengthwise. Set those aside while you chop the garlic.
My quick tip to mince garlic: peel the garlic and place a knife on top of the clove.
Hold the knife handle steady with your dominant hand. Then give the blade of the knife a quick whack with your other fist. Carefully now! Nothing ruins date night faster than a trip to the Emergency Room.
The garlic clove should be nice and flat. Smashing the garlic will also bruise it so that it can readily release its oils. Garlic oil is a very good thing.
Give the smashed garlic a quick chop. I end up running the knife across the smashed clove twice for a nice quick mince. Reheat the skillet over medium-high heat.
Pour in the white wine, and deglaze the pan by whisking all of the delicious brown bits off of the bottom of the pan. If wine is not your thing, or if you are like me and in your overzealous attempt to remove the cork you shattered off the top of the wine bottle, then chicken broth will do nicely.
Add the tomatoes, minced garlic, and salt & pepper to the pan. Stir and saute the mixture for a minute or two to lightly caramelize and soften. Smash the tomatoes a bit with the back of a wooden spoon.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, and pour in the cream. Give it a quick stir.
Then just for fun, add another tablespoon of butter. Continue to stir the cream mixture as it simmers for 3 to 4 minutes. The sauce will reduce slightly during this time.
Now it’s time for the best part…the cheese! Turn off the heat under the skillet, then add all of the cheeses to the pan. I like a cheese blend very similar to that used in my lasagna recipe–Asiago, parmesan, fontina, and herbed goat cheese.
The Asiago and parmesan are obvious choices for an Alfredo sauce, but I like the creaminess the fontina adds, and the complexity of the herbed goat cheese. You can go with my blend, or all parmesan, or parm & Asiago. Bottom line: use what you like, just be sure to use a full 2 cups of it. Stir the cheese into sauce until the cheese is completely melted and smooth.
For all that is good and right with the world, please, please, please grate your own cheese! Pre-shredded cheeses are coated with anti-caking agents such as cellulose, which not only keeps the cheese from clumping in the bag, it also hinders the cheese from melting smoothly.
Voila! Alfredo sauce! Now if it were up to me, I’d tear off chunks of crusty bread, use it to scoop up the sauce, and call it dinner.
But since I was feeding others, I went the more traditional route and finished putting the Cajun chicken Alfredo together.
Pour the cooked fettuccine into the Alfredo sauce.
Toss the Cajun chicken on top of the fettuccine. By now, the soon-to-be-recipients of this deliciousness are hovering in the kitchen. Tell ’em to shoo! We are almost done.
Use a pair of tongs to toss the pasta and chicken in the Alfredo sauce until everything is evenly distributed.
Woo! Done! It’s time to eat! Use the same thongs to fill pasta bowls, and serve it up with a sprinkle of chopped parsley and a hefty pinch of nutmeg. Yes, nutmeg. A nice tossed salad, and a glass of Pinot Grigio would be the ideal accompaniments.
Cajun Chicken Alfredo is the perfect date night meal. It makes Hubby a very happy man.
But, I’m going to be honest with you. Your kitchen at the end of this meal will be completely trashed. Completely! As if a tornado went through with laser-like accuracy and targeted your cupboards. But don’t let that stop you–it’s totally worth it!
Because chances are, your well fed and happy spouse will clean up the mess for you. Bacon Slayer was so thrilled that he couldn’t wash dishes fast enough so that I didn’t have to do it! Which made me very happy, too.
Here’s the Cajun Chicken Fettucine Alfredo recipe. Enjoy!