When ordering food at a restaurant, do you ever feel pressure to get a different dish than what you wanted because someone else is getting it? I don’t know why I feel like we all need to be eating something different at a restaurant when we eat the same thing every night at home. Well, I ask because a few months ago we went to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory with my husband’s siblings and mom and 5 out of the 6 of us got the same meal (well, some orders were split- the meals there are massive!). We all got the Louisiana Chicken Pasta. Now this time I was not even tempted to get something else because it is just that good… and everyone else felt the same way. Definitely satisfying!
Since I cook (and we are poor students), sometimes it is hard for me to spend a lot of money on food when going out because I can often replicate the same dish for a fraction of what it costs at the restaurant. At the Cheesecake Factory, the Louisiana Chicken Pasta costs about $16 which I think is a lot for a pasta dish so I decided that I would try to replicate this yummy dish.
I saw my mom do this kind of thing pretty often when I was growing up. She would memorize what exactly was in a food she ate or grab a take-out menu with the menu item descriptions and voila! A restaurant meal made at home! So here it is: Louisiana Chicken Pasta served right in your home for about only $7 for the whole meal! (Note: You will spend more buying the ingredients, but for the amounts of each ingredient you use the meal comes to $7.)
Oh, the sauce does have a kick to it so if you can’t handle the heat don’t put in the red pepper flakes.
Louisiana Chicken Pasta
For the Chicken:
- 6 3-ounce chicken tenders (or 3 chicken breasts cut in half)
- 2/3 cup flour divided
- ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup water
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs*
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 1/2 cup canola oil for frying
For the Pasta:
- 12 ounces bow tie pasta
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 cup mushrooms sliced
- ½ cup yellow bell pepper diced
- ½ cup red bell pepper diced
- ½ cup orange bell pepper diced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup half and half cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup green onion diced
- Parmesan cheese for garnish
Put 1/3 cup flour in a bowl and set aside.
Put 1/3 cup flour in another bowl with Cajun seasoning, salt, and black pepper. Mix in water a little at a time. Add egg and mix until batter is well blended.
In a shallow dish, mix Panko crumbs with Parmesan.
Flatten chicken to about 1/2 inch thin by pounding with a meat mallet. (Enclose chicken in a Ziplock bag or between two pieces of plastic wrap to avoid splashing.)
Take a chicken tender and dip in flour and shake off excess. Then dip in batter and allow excess to drip back into the bowl. Press battered chicken in Panko mixture to cover both sides and then place on a parchment lined baking sheet (or whatever you want to set the chicken on until you're ready to fry it). Repeat with each piece of chicken and then set aside and begin making pasta.
Boil water and cook the 4 cups of pasta as directed on package. While pasta cooks, make the sauce.
In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter. Add garlic, crushed red pepper, mushrooms, and bell peppers. Saute over medium-high heat until tender. Stir in the flour and then the cream, milk, Cajun seasoning, and salt. Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes of until thick (about 5 minutes). Begin frying chicken.
Heat oil in a large skillet (it should cover the bottom of the pan and be about 1/4 inch deep) over medium-high heat.
Place breaded chicken tenders in the pan (however many will fit without having them touch) and cook for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Place on a paper towel lined plate when done. Repeat with remaining chicken.
When pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1/2 cup starchy water and then drain. Mix the pasta and sauce together. Add starchy pasta water if needed. Stir in the green onion.
Dish pasta onto plates and top with a chicken tender. Grate Parmesan cheese over the top and serve.
*Panko Bread crumbs can be found in the baking aisle near regular bread crumbs or in the Asian aisle.
Recipe Source: Inspired by The Cheesecake Factory’s Louisiana Chicken Pasta
(Nutrition Facts are calculated based on only 1/4 cup oil being absorbed. Also, calculations account for all of the flour, batter, and breading being used on the chicken however you probably will not use all of it.)
(Updated 5/20/14 with new photos. Recipe updated and made lower in calories and fat 4/9/15.)