Several weeks ago, we asked readers for food theyve had in restaurants that they would like to make at home.
One of the first requests came from Ryan Brown of Charlotte. Brown was after the Cajun carbonara pasta from Boudreauxs Louisiana Kitchen:
While most restaurants have blackened chicken pasta or Cajun pasta, and while the dish is not traditional Cajun, there is something special about the sauce used in this pasta dish.
As it happens, that pasta dish Brown is so fond of made it onto Boudreauxs menu by chance.
Chef Christopher Vanella (yep, pronounced just like the extract) wanted to create a type of carbonara using what he had on hand.
We had corn, blackened chicken and Tasso (cured, seasoned ham), Vanella said. We ran it a few times as a special and then decided to put it on the menu.
The backbone of the pasta is Boudreauxs Creole sauce. Vanella hits it with a little cream, which tones down the heat.
Vanella says you can create a similar sauce using a spicy tomato sauce. Look for the words Arrabbiata or Fra Diavolo on the label.
The recipe Vanella originally sent called for Tasso or a spicy ham. Finding Tasso proved difficult. I struck out at Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, Earth Fare and Fresh Market. I tried using a hot capicola, but it didnt provide enough of a spicy kick.
After conferring with chef Vanella, I ended up substituting andouille sausage with much better results.
While the recipe doesnt call for this, if you want a chunkier sauce, Vanella suggests sauteing one stalk of diced celery and some thin strips of red pepper in 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil before starting the sauce.
Cajun Carbonara Pasta
From Boudreauxs Louisiana Kitchen. Dont skimp on the Asiago cheese, as it adds a lovely richness. If you like more sauce on your pasta, dont toss it quite as long.
2 to 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast
Your favorite Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup andouille sausage, diced
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
1 cup spicy tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups cooked rotini pasta,
drained but not rinsed
1/2 cup shaved Asiago cheese
Salt and pepper
SPRINKLE one side of the chicken generously with Cajun seasoning. Grill or saute chicken until cooked through (use 1teaspoon olive oil in a skillet if sauteing), then chop into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.
HEAT 2 teaspoons olive oil in skillet until hot but not smoking. Saute garlic and sausage for 1 to 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
ADD the cooked chicken and corn and cook until warm.
ADD the cream and tomato sauce and bring to a boil, cooking until the sauce is reduced by half.
TOSS the pasta in the sauce until most of the liquid is absorbed.
PLACE the pasta in a serving bowl or on plates. Sprinkle with the shaved Asiago and serve.
Yield: 2 restaurant-size portions, so you can probably get to 2 to 3smaller servings.
Are you looking for a recipe from a Charlotte-area restaurant? Send your request to Robin Domeier, firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, why you like the recipe, the area where you live and the restaurants location. Domeier is owner of Nibbles Personal Chef.
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