Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Creamy Cajun Chicken Linguine and a Caesar Salad

The other night I was looking for something to cook for some friends that would warm us up from the unseasonably cool weather we have been having lately.  A friend of mine at work suggested a cajun shrimp dish that she had made recently.  As I wasn't really in the mood for seafood, I decided to switch out the shrimp for some chicken and andouille sauage as the pasta sounded wonderful!  When the original recipe said that the best thing to complement this meal would be a Caesar salad, I knew exactly what I was going to make. 

To me there is nothing better than friends gathering around the table for a meal.  Here is what we had...

Creamy Cajun Chicken and Sausage Linguine

6 ounces uncooked linguine
1 package boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 package Cajun style andouille sausage, cubed
3 tablespoons butter
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
1 large red bell pepper, cut into (1/4-inch-thick) slices
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook pasta according to directions on the package.
In a large skillet, brown the sausage in a little bit of olive oil. 
Remove the sausage once browned and set aside. 
Add the chicken and a tablespoon of butter to the sausage dripping and cook until done.
Once the chicken is cooked through, remove from skillet and set aside with the sausage.  To the pan add the remaining butter, mushrooms and bell peppers and sauté 4 minutes or until moisture evaporates.
Add flour, seasoning, and salt to pan; sauté 30 seconds.
Stir in half-and-half; cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly.
Add sausage and chicken back into the pan and stir to coat. 
Remove from heat. Add pasta mixture and parsley to pan; toss.

Then there is the Caesar salad.....oh my favorite!  I have long been an afficionado of Caesar salads and can, as a general rule, tell how the food is going to be at a restaurant based on their Caesar salad.  This is by far my favorite salad.  The dressing must not be too thick, but not runny. The lettuce needs to be cool and crisp and the croutons just have to be present!  I am a huge fan of homemade salad dressings and typically do not like any dressing that comes from a bottle (as many of my friends will attest to).  When I started looking through the Two Dudes One Pan cookbook that I have already mentioned in this blog, I came across this recipe and knew it had potential.  It called for all the right ingredients, the raw egg yolk, the anchovies and the Parmesan cheese!  Of course that "potential" quickly became what I now know as my favorite Caesar dressing.

Real Caesar Dressing
(According to Two Dudes One Pan)
1 large egg yolk
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 anchovy fillet, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Whisk the egg yolk with the garlic, anchovy, shallot, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Tabasco, mustard salt and pepper in a large bowl. 
While whisking, drizzle in three quarters of the oil and then whisk in the vinegar and the cheese. 
Taste the dressing and add more oil if you prefer a thinner Caesar dressing. 
Refrigerate until serving. (Because of the raw eggs, this dressing must be used the same day that it is made.)
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