Having recently been uninspired in the kitchen and elsewhere in life (sigh), I was cruising the Pioneer Woman's website for some culinary encouragement. And of course I found it. I didn't have time to make a trip to the store for red onions and bell peppers; that's what Ree used in hers. Much prettier. She also used fettuccine. But my kids loved the rigatoni that I had on-hand.
Also, Ree encouraged having a heavy hand with the cayenne pepper in this recipe. Since I'm a sensitive girl and don't really enjoy having flames melt my esophagus and burn out my eyeballs, I skipped the super hot spices. But if you love to sweat while you eat, add the hot stuff!
Here's the printable recipe.
Cajun Chicken Rigatoni
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cubed
3 teaspoons Cajun spice mix (I used Old Bay), divided
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (about 3 teaspoons)
3 large Roma tomatoes, sliced
2 cups chicken stock (or low-sodium broth)
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, to taste (substitute dried parsley)
Place the chicken in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the Cajun spices and the paprika (I used extra, even though there was paprika in the Cajun spices. It lent such pretty color to the dish.). Toss to coat.
In a heavy skillet (I used cast-iron), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Add about half the chicken in one layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side for about 1-2 minutes. Flip to other side and cook an additional minute or two. Remove with slotted spoon and place on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken to plate. Increase pan to high heat.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Add remaining olive oil and butter, then add onion and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining teaspoon of Cajun spice. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, allowing onion to get as dark as possible in that short amount of time. Add tomatoes; cook for another 30 seconds or so. Remove all veggies to the plate with the chicken.
To make the sauce, keep the pan over high heat. Pour in the wine and stock/broth. Cook for 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and add cream; whisk constantly. Cook for a few minutes until cream begins to thicken the sauce. Taste and season with additional pepper, salt and spices, if necessary.
Return the chicken and vegetables to the sauce, being sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir for 1-2 minutes, until mixture is hot and bubbly. Add in the drained pasta and toss to combine. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman