Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Homemade Cajun Chicken Pasta

2016-05-27 18.01.49

Here in Florida, we have a local restaurant and bar that serves this dish. Every time we go I always order the Cajun Chicken Pasta. I just love it so much I needed to recreate it at home. I will say that there is some butter that goes into the 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!

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Ready less than 1 hour
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: cast iron skillet and a deep sided saute pan.

4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts
1-1/2 boxes of linguine
1 pint of sliced button mushrooms
4 seeded and diced plum tomatoes
1 finely minced shallot
3 finely minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup of dry white wine
3 tablespoons of olive oil
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
4 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning
2 tablespoons of sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 cup of low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese ( reserve 1/2 cup for garnishing each serving)
Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish

In a cast iron skillet, start by melting butter and olive oil. To the skillet add the finely minced shallot and sliced mushrooms. On medium heat, saute the mushrooms and shallots for about 3-5 minutes. Next, add in the minced garlic, and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Add in 1/4 cup of white wine and let this all simmer together until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are brown. This process should take another 7-10 minutes. While the mushrooms are simmering and browning, seed and dice 4 plum tomatoes. Transfer the sauteed mushrooms, shallots and garlic with the diced tomatoes to the bowl and mix together.

Place 4 boneless-skinless chicken breast, that have 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 to the bag. 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.

Using the same skillet the mushrooms were cooked in, preheated on the stove on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil along with 2 tablespoons of butter. Let the butter melt and move 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 5-7 minutes per side until almost tender. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside for a minute.

In a large pot, start to get the pasta water ready. Turn the pot on med-high heat to bring the water up to a boil. While that’s happening, slice the chicken breast on the bias.

in a deep sided saute pan with a lid, start the sauce for this dish. On medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter ( this may seem like a large amount of butter, but there is a lot of pasta going into this dish. The pasta needs to be well coated) along with 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning and 1 tablespoons sweet paprika. Add 1/2 a cup of low sodium chicken broth. Let this come to a bubble. Reduce the heat to med-low and pour in 1/4 cup of  heavy cream. Whisk the sauce together, then add the sliced chicken into the sauce. Let the sauce and chicken simmer for 10-12 minutes ( enough time to cook the pasta), on med-low heat, while the pasta cooks.

When the pasta is al dente,  transfer the linguine to the pan with the chicken, along 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 immediately start to absorb the sauce. Serve in a pasta bowl and garnishing with fresh Italian flat leaf parsley and another sprinkling of the Parmesan cheese. If the dish is not being served right away, place the lid.



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Gnocchi With A Porcini Mushroom And Sweet Italian Sausage Ragu

2015-08-20 18.19.57

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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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 non-stick sauté pan, 12-inch rondeau pan, 5-quart saucepot, Microplane for grating

1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, bulk style
1 4.5-ounce package of dried Porcini mushrooms
2 cups of unsalted beef broth
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
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of 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, chopped
1 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (reserve 1/2 cup to sprinkle over each serving)

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 the 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 plate lined with a paper towel.

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. Stir and let that soften and the onions become 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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Caprese-Style Polenta Cakes

2015-05-07 09.50.18

I grew up eating a lot of Polenta. Polenta can be compared to what we know as grits. It’s an Italian dish made by boiling cornmeal which then becomes a thick solidified porridge. The good news is polenta is a blank canvas allowing you to add all types of flavorings and served in a number of different ways.

Today I thought I’d add flavors like, diced tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil, then turn them into polenta cakes. Crunchy on the outside, yet soft and creamy on the inside.

I serve my Caprese-Style Polenta Cakes it with a simple mixed green salad dressed with my quick and easy Lemon Vinaigrette.

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 2 hours
Cooking Time: 2 to 3 minutes per side
Yields: 36 triangles (18 triangles per sheet pan)
Equipment: 2-1/4 rimmed baking sheet pans, 6-quart saucepot, 2 medium-size mixing bowls, rubber spatula, parchment paper, non-stick cooking spray

2 1/2 cups of quick-cooking polenta
7 cups of water
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter ( 2 reserved for frying polenta)
1 tablespoon of olive oil (for frying polenta)
1/2 a cup of heavy cream
2 cups of plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 cups of  freshly shredded low-moisture Mozzarella cheese
1 cup of finely chopped basil, chiffonade-style

3 beaten eggs
1 cup of cornmeal
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200-degrees F.
I like for my Polenta to be bit looser in consistency than to be too thick. Let me explain. Typically, it’s 1 cup of cornmeal per 2 cups of water. I prefer using 1 cup of cornmeal per 3 cups of water.

For this recipe, I’m using 2 1/2 cups of Polenta to 7 cups of water. This will yield 2-1/4 sheet pans of Polenta around 1 1/2 inches thickness once it has set.

Spray 2-1/4 sheet pans with non-stick cooking spray. Lay parchment paper over the pans so that the paper will stay secure. Cut them a little larger than the size of the pans, allowing a little extra to hang over the edges. This will allow for easy removal, later, of the chilled Polenta.

First, dice the tomatoes, grate the mozzarella, and chop the basil leaves. Set aside.

Start by bringing water to a boil saucepot. Once the water comes to a hard boil add Kosher salt then slowly whisk in the Polenta. You’ll start to see how fast the water gets absorbed and the Polenta starts to thicken.

At this point, turn the heat off and add in 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Switch to a wooden spoon, stir until the butter is completely combined and melted into the polenta.

Next, add the heavy cream, continuously stirring until the cream is completely combined. At this point, the Polenta thickens even more. Add the diced tomatoes and grated mozzarella, stir to combine. Finally, add the chiffonade basil, again stir to combine.

Using a rubber spatula, dump the polenta equally dividing it between the two sheet pans. Spread the mixture out so the polenta is evenly distributed throughout the pan. Transfer the sheet pans to the refrigerator allowing the polenta to chill and set.

After chilling for 2 hours, score the polenta into thirds, both lengthwise and crosswise. Then cut each square diagonally into triangles.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, add equal parts flour and cornmeal, Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, whisk to combine. together with some Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. In another bowl, add 3 eggs, using a fork, beat the eggs.

Preheat oven to 200-degrees F.
In a non-stick sauté pan, over medium heat melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Carefully dip the triangle of Polenta into the beaten eggs, then into the cornmeal/flour mixture, then into the hot sauté pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side. You just want to get a nice golden crust on the outside of the Polenta cakes. Do this in batches of (4) four.

After about 2 minutes of frying the cakes off on one side, take a peek, using a spatula, and see if they need another minute before flipping to the other side. Set the finished polenta cakes on a sheet pan and transfer to the oven to stay warm while frying the remaining polenta cakes

The great thing about this dish is everything can be done in advance, and you don’t have to make them all at one time. The chilled Polenta will keep in the frig for up to 3 days. Make sure to cover tightly with plastic wrap. You can enjoy these for breakfast, brunch/lunch, or dinner.

To serve. Arrange two of my Caprese-Style Polenta Cakes onto a serving plate. Serve with a mixed greens salad. For my Lemon Vinaigrette recipe click on the link below.  There you have it, my Caprese-Style Polenta Cakes.

*E.V.O.O. is short for Extra Virgin olive oil.


Balsamic, Cilantro-Lime, And Lemon Vinaigrette


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