Monday, May 7, 2012

Grilled Cajun Ranch Chicken Pasta

You guys know I'm a sucker for anything with "ranch" in the title. But I'd never thought of pairing the flavor of ranch with Cajun flavors until I saw this recipe on Pinterest -- and I was immediately in love with the idea. When I actually tried it, I was even more smitten. The tanginess of the ranch works perfectly with the heat of the Cajun spices. This pasta dish is creamy, spicy, tangy, and flavorful -- pretty much everything you could ask for in a meal. I would even call this a restaurant-quality dish.

Although the chicken itself was a bit too spicy for the boys, I cut down on the Cajun seasoning in the sauce so they could enjoy the pasta -- and they loved it. We all loved this meal. Our leftovers were gone within a day.

Grilled Cajun Ranch Chicken Pasta
adapted from Plain Chicken

For the chicken:

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup ranch dressing
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
2 teaspoons sal
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white sugar, or to taste
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

For the pasta:

16 ounces penne or other short pasta
1/4 cup butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. For the chicken: In a medium bowl, stir together the olive oil, ranch dressing, Worcestershire sauce, cajun seasoning, salt, lemon juice, white vinegar, pepper, and sugar. Pound chicken breasts to 1/4-inch thickness. Place chicken in an airtight container and cover with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours up to overnight. Preheat the grill for medium-high heat. Grill chicken for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the juices run clear. Let rest.

2. While the chicken is cooking, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; set aside.

3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Stir in evaporated milk, Cajun seasoning, and parmesan cheese. Whisk together on low heat for 5 to 6 minutes, until sauce is thickened. Pour the sauce over the pasta.

4. Slice the chicken and portion it on top of each serving of pasta.

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