Oh ye of faint hearts and taste buds, turneth away now- ’cause this is not a dish for timid eaters. Chicken. Pasta. Blackened veggies. Spice… LOTS of spice. All mixed together in a creamy, peppery sauce that literally set off my smoke alarm. It’s a hot one, folks.
I found this recipe on Pioneer Woman’s Marlboro Man Approved page. She does a great job of explaining how to do things, so click on that link if you want the recipe (which you do. Trust me, it’s GOOD.)
This recipe has a lot of chopped veggies, and with cubing the chicken on top of that, it gets pretty time consuming (especially if you are a very slow, nervous knife-handler like me). I would recommend prepping these ingredients beforehand, or just giving yourself LOTS of time to make this meal.
Pioneer Woman recommends using Cajun Spice for the seasoning, which you can buy pre-packaged. We happened to have a bottle in our spice cabinet, but I also threw in some cayenne pepper, chili powder, and cumin to add some extra flavor.
Pioneer Woman also recommends using fettuccine noodles, but I just used regular spaghetti because #IDoWhatIWant… and we had a half-full opened box of spaghetti that we needed to use up. They worked just fine, thank you. A sprinkle of parsley on top made my dish look a little more like hers!
Okay, so my chicken could have been blacker. But there’s a funny-ish story behind that; let me set the scene for you. The guts of freshly sliced peppers littered the countertops; crinkly peels from a red onion and a couple cloves of garlic were buried within the rubble. Oil and butter, popping from the heat of the skillet, sprinkled the stove top and recipe page. Max sat at my feet, sniffing for chicken. I had two burners running; one to boil the pasta, and another to blacken the chicken. I’d never blackened chicken before; the burner was on very, very high. I was nervous that I would somehow burn the house down.
I covered the chicken and prayed to Pioneer Woman that I would not burn the house down. I waited a minute, flipped the chicken, and thanked Pioneer Woman that I had yet to burn the house down.
And then the smoke alarm went off.
And Max started barking.
And I realized that I didn’t know where the smoke alarm was; we had moved it when repainting the house last summer. It sure worked, but I couldn’t find it. The piercing noise seemed to be coming from every direction.
I attempted to climb on one of our barstools to check the top of the cabinets. The cushion on top of the stool slid and I shrieked. To avoid falling, I jumped/stumbled off, removed the cushion, climbed back on, and held the fridge for balance. This was necessary, as Max was doing panic-attack-dog quick laps (as he continued to bark) around the kitchen island and was making me extremely nervous.
I located the smoke alarm on top of our pantry, and then realized I had no idea how to turn it off. The banshee-screeching object was now just inches from my face, and combined with Max’s yipping and my own profanity, my Pioneer Woman-wannabe kitchen had dissolved into sheer chaos. I pushed buttons frantically, trying to make it stop, and was just short of throwing it into the yard when finally-
Well, except for Max’s panting and my sky rocketing blood pressure.
I dismounted the bar stool and promptly turned on the exhaust fan over the stove. The smoke/steam was gone in seconds.
The lesson I learned from that experience was this: when Pioneer Woman says something is spicy, she means smoke-alarm inducing freakin’ hot. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just prepare yourself (and your dog).