NoteFor me, the passing of time has never quite ceased to correspond to the school year. After I graduated college, I went right to work for the university. I don’t get summer vacation, but there are other definite reminders of the ups and downs of a new semester. Traffic, for instance. And the need for packed lunches.
I would love to have leftovers at work every day, but my leftovers game is not that strong. Sometimes we’ve eaten it all, or the leftovers that we have reheat weird (like meatloaf. For whatever reason, I just can’t quite do meatloaf in the work microwave).
This recipe is perfect for packed lunches. The pasta/veggie/meat combo reheats nicely, and this recipe as written makes a GIANT POT O’ FOOD. Two people can eat this for dinner, and then one person can eat lunch all week on what’s left. And the fabulous combination of flavors means that it doesn’t get boring.
Creamy Cajun Pasta Notes
I will recommend that you do most of the cooking in a vessel that is a) large and b) cast iron or some other heavy material. You get the most flavor out of this recipe when the ingredients are browned, which happens best in a nice heavy vessel over higher heat. I also like to chop the ingredients smaller so they cook faster, especially the chicken.
I don’t know much about Cajun cooking, but I do love this version. For a more authentic New Orleans flavor, you might add celery to the onions and peppers–the “Holy Trinity” of Cajun cooking. For more veggies, add chopped tomatoes, or another bell pepper. You might also add more Cajun seasoning for more heat (although if you, like me, use Tony Chachere’s, be aware that it will get correspondingly saltier). If you really love the creaminess, you could add more cream. If the wine-y flavor floats your boat, use more of that. And maybe pour yourself a glass of the same to go with dinner.
And one very important note regarding sauce! When I call this “creamy,” I mean that everything is lightly coated in just a slick of creamy goodness. If you want more of a semblance of sauciness, double the broth/wine/cream. If you want more of a Cajun alfredo, the kind my husband adores that leaves a puddle in your bowl for sopping up with bread, quadruple it.
What if, you ask, this is just too much food? You love the idea but could never eat the same thing every day for a week? Choose one protein and cut the rest of the recipe in half. I myself prefer the sausage; Robby likes the mix of both.
I’m always looking for inspiration, so tell me: what are your favorite leftovers?
1 package Andouille sausage, sliced into rounds
1 pound chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, sliced
1 bell pepper (red or orange or yellow), sliced
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound dry pasta
Fresh chopped parsley
Salt a large pot and cook pasta. Drain about a minute short of al dente (or your desired consistency); it will cook a bit more later.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy pot or skillet over medium-high. Add sausage and cook for a few minutes, turning as needed, until it browns slightly. Set aside to drain slightly on paper towels.
Sprinkle chicken with Cajun seasoning, then toss with flour to lightly coat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and 2 tablespoons butter to the pan and cook chicken, browning on all sides (5 minutes or less). Set aside with sausage.
Melt 2 more tablespoons of butter. Saute onions and peppers for about 5 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown. Add the last 2 tablespoons of butter and the mushrooms. Cook another 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft. Set aside with meats.
Turn heat back up to medium high. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and chicken broth, scraping the lovely brown bits off the bottom. Stir for about 2 minutes to let the alcohol burn off and the liquid reduce. Reduce heat to medium and stir in cream, allowing sauce to thicken a little more. Turn heat off.
Toss sauce with drained pasta, sausage, and chicken. Serve garnished with parsley. Package the rest up for lunches and congratulate yourself!