Friday, April 9, 2010

Mexican Chicken Pasta

Like many of you, I read Pioneer Woman daily. I love her wit and her photos, and I love her recipes. I admire the woman; she seems to come up with recipes so easily. Is it any wonder she has thousands and thousands of hits every day?

Back in February, she posted a recipe for Cajun Chicken Pasta. Like everything else, it looked delicious and I had to try it--we are into pasta here at our house. But, I was not so sure about the Cajun part. I've never really been exposed to much Cajun cooking, so I'm unfamiliar with the flavors (blasphemy! I know) and I don't have any of the spices. But, after reading the recipe, I decided it would be easy enough to alter it to become Mexican Chicken Pasta, which is exactly what I did. And it was delicious. Obviously this pasta has no real affiliation with Mexican cooking in any way; but I never said I cooked authentic Mexican food, so I don't think it matters. Plus, the most important part is that it tastes good. Which it does.

Mexican Chicken Pasta
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Printable Recipe

1 pound fettuccine pasta
3 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1-2 red bell peppers, depending on size, sliced. You can also use a combination of red and green peppers.
1 onion, sliced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 large or 4 regular roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup half-and-half (Yes, you're right--PW uses cream)
2 cups chicken broth
2-3 tablespoons Mexican seasoning (you could use those taco seasoning packets, too)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh cilantro (optional)

Cook the pasta until it is al dente and set aside.

Coat the chicken in 1-2 tablespoons of Mexican seasoning, 1/2 tablespoon chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Heat some olive oil in a pan over high heat and cook the chicken. PW recommends blackening the chicken by cooking on one side without stirring and then flipping; you can do that if you're going for that. I wasn't, so I stirred it up.

When the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, remove it to a plate. Add a little more olive oil to the same pan and add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Add the rest of the seasonings and cook for a few minutes, until the onions begin to turn translucent (you don't want them too soft). Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute. Remove the vegetables to a plate.

With the pan still on high heat, add the chicken broth to the pan to deglaze it, scraping the bottom while it cooks. Reduce the heat to medium and add the half-and-half. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper if needed. Add the pasta, chicken, and vegetables back to the pan and stir to combine. When everything is heated through, remove from the heat and serve with cilantro, if desired.

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