One of my favorite things to do when a foodie friend or relative comes to visit is to take them to the most tantalizing spice shop found in downtown old Overland Park, Penzeys Spices. Seriously, this place is a nostril’s utopia. They have little sniffing jars at each station so you can torture yourself before narrowing it down to the 47 spices you can’t help buying. You laugh now. I dare you to walk out empty handed.
Tonight’s dinner features a Penzeys purchase from earlier this year. It’s a spice blend that often gets shoved to the back of the cubbard and left forgotten, cold and alone. Well no need for self-esteem camp tonight little spice. Ohhhh no. Tonight’s dinner showcases you beautifully, front and center. I’m talking about Cajun seasoning. Now, I don’t cook Cajun too often, but I do cook (read: rely on for true happiness in my life) pasta. And what better way to celebrate this spice blend than to blacken some chicken strips and place them on creamy noodles?
What it took:
* 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
* ½ pound of dried linguine
* 1 cup of whole milk (or cream, even better)
* 1 Tbs. flour
* 2 Tbs. Cajun spice blend, divided
* 1/4th cup sliced scallions
* 2 Tbs. butter, divided
* 1 garlic clove, mined
* small handful of torn basil
* kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Start the salted water for your pasta. Then, place your little chicken strips in a bowl and toss 1 Tbs. of the Cajun spice blend. In a 12 inch skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of butter. Toss your chicken strips into the skillet and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, until nice and browned on all sides. Set aside for a sec. In a medium sauce pan, melt the other Tbs. butter. Add minced garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the other Tbs. of cajun seasoning and let the flavors bloom for 30 more seconds. Add the milk and bring to a boil. The sauce will turn the most beautiful color and you might just tear up. Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for about 5 minutes. In a little bowl wisk the flour with a Tbs of water. Then wisk that into the sauce to let it thicken. Keep it on a low simmer while the pasta finishes. Once it reaches al dente, drain and place the pasta into the sauce. I know. So wonderful. Plate each dish with the creamy pasta and top with a few strips of spicy chicken. Tear some basil into the dish and season with salt and pepper to your liking! Go ahead. Do a little Cajun dance.