Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

Homemade Cajun Chicken Pasta

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Here in Florida, we have a popular restaurant/bar that serves Homemade Cajun Chicken Pasta. Every time we go that’s what I order. I just love it so much I needed to recreate it at home.

I will say, a good bit of butter goes into making of this dish, but that’s part of the reason it’s so delicious. I think once and a while it’s alright to indulge in a rich and decadent dish!

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Chicken Broth

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diced roma tomatoes

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: cast iron skillet and a deep-sided frying pan, 6-quart saucepot, whisk, large mixing bowl. 1-gallon zip-lock plastic bag, Microplane

Ingredients:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 pounds (1 1/2 boxes) of linguine
1 pint of white button mushrooms, sliced
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 shallot, finely minced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup of dry white wine
6 tablespoons of olive oil
8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter, unsalted
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning
2 tablespoons of sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of chicken broth, unsalted
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (reserve 1/2 cup for garnishing each serving)
Italian flat-leaf parsley for garnish, finely chopped

Directions:
Place 4 boneless skinless chicken breast, that’s been patted dry, in a large resealable plastic bag. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika. Let all the air out of the bag and seal it up. Using your hands, massage the chicken so all the seasoning coats the chicken. Set aside.

In a cast-iron skillet over medium melt 2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil. Add the minced shallot, sliced mushrooms, and dried thyme. Cook the mushrooms and shallots for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the mushrooms have released all their water and become brown. Next, add the minced garlic, stirring, continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer until all the liquid has evaporated. This process should take another 7 to 10 minutes.

While the mushrooms are simmering seed and dice 4 plum tomatoes. Transfer the diced tomatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add the sautéed mushrooms and shallot mixture and fresh thyme leaves to the same bowl, mix to combine.

Using the same skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons each of butter olive oil. Let the butter melt moving the butter and oil around in the skillet to coat the entire bottom. Next, place the 4 seasoned chicken breast into the skillet. Cook the chicken breasts for 5 to 7 minutes per side until almost tender. Transfer the chicken breasts to a plate. Set aside.

Have a large pot of boiling salted water ready for the pasta. While that’s happening, thinly slice the chicken breasts on the bias. Transfer back to the plate.

In a deep-sided frying pan with a lid, start the sauce. On medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter (this may seem like a large amount of butter, but there is a lot of pasta and it needs to be coated really well with butter) along with 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning and 1 tablespoon sweet paprika. Add 1/2 a cup of unsalted chicken broth. Let this come to a bubble. Reduce the heat to medium-low and pour in 1/4 cup of heavy cream, whisk to combine. Add the sliced chicken into the sauce. Over medium-low heat simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Drop the pasta and cook until just al dente.

Once the pasta reaches the al dente stage, using a pair of tongs, transfer the linguine to the deep-sided frying pan with 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese. Turn the heat off and toss together until all the pasta is coated and the chicken is mixed through. The pasta will quickly absorb the sauce.

Serve my Homemade Cajun Chicken Pasta in a porcelain pasta bowl. Garnish with fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley and another sprinkling of the Parmesan cheese. If the dish is not being served immediately cover with a lid.

 

 

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Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey

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This is my traditional turkey recipe and the one my family insists on year after year. My Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey. Echoing those flavors, I finish, with a Maple Bourbon Gravy.

The brining process starts 24 hours before the bird goes into the oven. There are three parts, all of which are necessary, to have the most flavorful, juicy, and tender turkey you’ll ever have. It’s really all in the planning.

Before starting the whole brine process, the turkey must be completely thawed. My recipe is listed in 3 parts. Part 1 is the brine. Part 2 is the prep of the turkey for the oven. Part 3 is cooking the turkey and making the gravy.

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Part 1. The Brine
Prep Time: 40 to 45 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 to 10 minutes
Equipment: 1 (8-quart) plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, 1 large stockpot

Ingredients:
1 (12-pound) turkey
2 quarts water
2 orange peels
1 lemon peel
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/4 cup of Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of bourbon
1 1/2 (12-ounce) bottles of pure maple syrup
15 sprigs of thyme  (no need to strip leaves)
1 large sprig of Rosemary ( no need to strip leaves)
5 bay leaves (dried)
2 tablespoons of tricolor peppercorns
1 1/2 cups of organic apple juice
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

Directions:
Prep all the ingredients for the brine including measuring out the water. Place all the ingredients listed above in a large stockpot. Turn stove on medium-high heat and bring everything up to a boil, 7 to 10 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat source. Let the brine cool down, then place it into the frig, uncovered to chill, for around 30 to 35 minutes or until completely cool.

Remove turkey from its packaging and remove the neck and innards from the cavities of the bird. The only part I keep is the neck to make turkey stock from. I’ll tell you about that in a minute. Completely pat dry the turkey really well. Place the bird into the brine container and back into the frig until the brine liquid has cooled.

Once the brine is ready and completely cooled, take the turkey in the brine container out and pour the liquid over the bird. The bird should be completely submerged in the liquid. Place the lid on and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Note: Take notice of what time you place the bird into the brine. This will give you an idea of when the bird will be going into the oven. Allow an extra 20 minutes for rinsing the brine off the bird and letting it soak in clean water for 15 minutes. This will remove any extra salt flavor still on the bird. Then once again you will need to dry the turkey completely before part 2.

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Part 2. Prepping Turkey
Prep Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Total Time: approx. 2 hours 40 minutes
Total Time: approx. 3 hours
Equipment: Roasting pan with rack

Ingredients:
1 stick of softened unsalted butter
zest of an orange
zest of a lemon
2 cloves of grated garlic
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
2 teaspoons plus 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 onion, skin on and quartered
1 head of garlic cut in half lengthwise
10 sprigs of thyme
4 sprigs of rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
2 quarts of unsalted chicken stock- generally 2 cups (enough to fill the bottom of the roasting pan with liquid, having the level of liquid about 1 inch high). 1 quart is used to make the turkey stock

Preheat oven to 450-degrees F.
Once the bird has come out of the brine and well dried, it’s time to make a *compound butter for the turkey. In a medium-size mixing bowl prepare the *compound butter. Add softened butter, the zest of both the lemon and orange, freshly grated garlic, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, mix to combine. Moving on, release the bird’s legs from their packaging position as you see in the pictures.

With my clean hands, lift up the skin on the breast area and slather as much of the butter underneath the skin as possible. Reaching as far around with breaking or tearing the skin. Next, I fill both cavities of the bird with flavorings.

Next, cut the same lemon and orange that have already been zested, in half, placing half of each one into each of the cavities. Same with the halved head of garlic, and the quartered onion in both cavities. Finally, divide the sprigs of herbs up and place them into both cavities.

Now I rub the compound butter underneath the skin, reaching as far as you can without breaking the skin. Next, rub the olive oil all over the outside of the bird. Then sprinkle the  Kosher salt and black pepper all over the turkey. Finally, add the 2 cups of broth to the bottom of the roasting pan.

Part 3. Cooking Turkey:
Reduce oven temperature to 350-degrees F.

Place the turkey on the center rack in the oven. Every 30 to 45 minutes remove the turkey from the oven. Close the oven door to keep the heat in, and baste the turkey, using the juices from the bottom of the pan. About halfway through the cooking process, take the temperature of the turkey using a meat thermometer. Place the thermometer between the thigh and the breast meat for the best reading. This allows you to see how fast the bird is cooking and to gauge the time better. If you see the top is browning to quickly, place a foil tent over the turkey for the time remaining. Keep in mind,  you still need to baste the turkey every 30 to 45 minutes. Once the turkey’s temperature reaches 165-degrees F. around 2 hours 40 minutes, take the bird out of the oven.

While the turkey is in the oven, this is what I’m doing on top of the stove.

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Sage

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Equipment: 5-quart saucepot, fat separator

Ingredients For Turkey Stock:
Turkey neck
1 quart plus 2 cups of unsalted chicken stock
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
3 sprigs of fresh thyme

Ingredients For Maple Gravy:
1 turkey neck
3 tablespoons of bourbon
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
12 sage leaves (reserve 4 leaves chopped for the finished gravy)
1 1/2 cups of homemade turkey stock
1 cup of chicken stock, unsalted
3/4 stick of butter, unsalted
3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Part 3 Continues.
Directions For Turkey Stock:
In a large saucepot add the turkey neck and cover with 1 quart of unsalted chicken stock, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and 3 sprigs of thyme. Turn the heat up to med-high heat, bring this up to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer, cover, and cook, on medium-low heat, for 1 /1/2 hours.

Once finished, strain the liquid, using a mesh sieve, over a bowl to catch this delicious stock. Now I have a container of turkey stock along with a container with my leftover unsalted chicken stock (remember I only used 2 cups for the bottom of the roasting pan) to make my gravy.

At this point, remove the bird from the pan. I like to tilt the bird slightly over the roasting pan so that any juices that are in the cavities will fall to the bottom of the pan. Place the turkey on a large board and cover with foil until you’re ready to carve. Leave all the ingredients, in the cavities.

First, add 8 sage leaves while the juices are still really hot. Allow the sage to steep in the juices for a couple of minutes, then remove them. I use one of those gadgets that separate the fat from the juices that accumulated in the bottom of the roasting pan. I discard the fat and pour the juices into a bowl.

I return the empty roasting pan to the stove, over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup of the homemade turkey stock, I made earlier. Scraping the bits off the bottom (*deglazing) until they all release. I combined these juices with the pan juices in the bowl. Now my pan juices have no fat but the extra flavor from the bits that came off the bottom of the pan.

Start by making a *roux for the gravy.
Working with a clean roasting pan again, over medium heat. Add butter, let the butter melt before adding the flour. Whisking continuously until all the raw flour has cooked out. Next, add the pan juices (I reserved in the bowl) along with bourbon, maple syrup, chicken stock, and the turkey stock. I turn the heat back up to medium-high, still whisking, and let all those ingredients come up to a bubble and thicken. I also add in the reserved chopped sage leaves for color and flavor in the gravy.

This is my Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey With Maple Bourbon Gravy.

*Compound Butter is a mixture of butter and other supplementary ingredients, such as herbs, seasonings, acid, or and another flavorful and aromatic ingredient. Used to enhance flavor.

*Deglazing is a cooking technique for removing and dissolving browned food residue from a pan to flavor sauces, soups, and gravies.

*Roux is a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour using in making sauces.

My Hanging Organic Herb Garden And Summertime Flowers

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Gnocchi With A Porcini Mushroom And Sweet Italian Sausage Ragu

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Whenever I talk about a “ragù”  it’s usually a meat-based sauce served with some type of pasta. In this case, I thought that using the soft pillowy texture of a potato Gnocchi would be perfect. This is my Gnocchi With A Porcini Mushroom And Sweet Italian Sausage Ragu.

Let’s start with the ragù.

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Olive Oil

Fennel

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Onions

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Colander-Style Spoon

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Prep Time: 15 minutes (re-hydrating mushrooms)
Cooking Time: 40 minutes (includes the cooking time for browning sausage)
Total Cook Time: 55 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 3-quart saucepan, 10-inch sauté pan, 12-inch rondeau (deep-sided frying pan) 6-quart saucepot, Microplane

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 (4.5-ounce) package of dried Porcini mushrooms
2 cups of beef broth, low sodium
1 cup of mushroom stock (the liquid from the re-hydrated Porcini mushrooms)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 package of store-bought potato gnocchi, (substitute homemade)
1 1/4 cups of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated (reserve 1/2 cup to sprinkle over each serving)

Directions:
Start by re-hydrating the Porcini mushrooms over medium-low heat with unsalted beef broth, 15 to 20 minutes until plump. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms and transfer them to a cutting board, reserving the mushroom liquid. Next, finely dice the mushrooms placing them into a small bowl.

In a rondeau pan (deep-sided frying pan) over medium heat add olive oil and fennel seeds. Next, add  Italian sausage to the pan breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook and stir until sausage is completely brown, with no pink, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and drain the grease by using a strainer or a slotted spoon, transferring the sausage to a large mixing bowl.

While the sausage is browning, dice up the onion and mince the garlic. Set aside.

Using the same rondeau pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, allowing the onions become soft and translucent 2 to 3 minutes. Next, add the chopped Porcini mushrooms, minced garlic, and the fresh thyme leaves, stir to combine.

At this point, add the gnocchi into a pot of boiling salted water.

Add the reserved mushroom stock to the pan. Allow the stock to simmer and reduce until there is only a couple of tablespoons of the liquid is left in the pan. Add the cooked sausage and crushed tomatoes, stir to combine, simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and add the heavy cream, stir through.

When it the Gnocchi begins floating they’re done. Using a colander-style spoon transfer the gnocchi into the pan with the ragù, stir gently to combine. Turn the heat to off. Add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, again, stir to combine. Garnish with chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley.

Ladle the Gnocchi With A Porcini Mushroom And Sweet Italian Sausage Ragù into individual porcelain serving bowls. Top with more of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Serve hot.

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