Pasta With a Kick

Inspired by a dish at a former Springfield restaurant, Rhonda Kauble created a moderately spicy, super-indulgent pasta dish that has everyone coming back for seconds.

After her first bite of a creamy-yet-spicy Voodoo Chicken Penne entrée at Springfield’s former Valentine’s Restaurant, Rhonda Kauble knew she had found a new favorite. In fact, she and her family returned to the eatery often, and every time, she ordered this dish. But when Valentine’s closed its doors, Rhonda wasn’t ready to say goodbye. She got busy searching the internet for Cajun pasta recipes, picking and choosing her favorite ingredients to try and create a similar dish at home. “At first, it turned out different a few times, but I kept tweaking it,” Rhonda says. “I’ve gotten it to come together over the last six months.” Today, Rhonda makes this super-indulgent dish when her two kids, who are away at college, visit on the weekends. “It feeds six people pretty easily,” she says.

Ingredients

3 boneless chicken breasts
1–1½ tablespoons blackening seasoning 
6 slices bacon, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 green onions, chopped (plus more for garnish)
2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
2–3 tablespoons flour
1– 1½ cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 pound penne pasta, cooked

 

Instructions

1. Liberally season whole chicken breasts with blackening season, and sear each side for 1–2 minutes in a cast-iron skillet. 
2. Place skillet in 350°F oven for 25 minutes to finish cooking. 
3. Once cooked, slice each breast into strips, and set aside. 
4. Using the same skillet, sauté the bacon in approximately one tablespoon of olive oil until it begins to render. 
5. Add remaining olive oil, then add mushrooms and sauté until they begin to soften. Add green onions, fresh garlic, powdered garlic, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and Cajun seasoning. Stir to combine. 
6. Cook until the vegetables are tender, then stir in flour. The mixture will become thick and sticky. 
7. Add the milk, and stir until sauce starts to thicken. 
8. Stir in heavy cream. 
9. Add cooked pasta, blackened chicken and approximately 1/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese. (Add a little more milk if needed to attain the desired consistency.) 
10. Garnish with more Parmesan cheese, a sprinkle of Cajun spice and green onion.

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