Quick meals that make great leftovers and are versatile enough to be served a lot of different ways are at the heart of my summer cooking strategy. It seems like turkey or PBJ sandwiches give way to leftovers for lunches a lot more in the summer and with a teenager working various shifts at a summer job, some of those same leftovers get snagged on the way out the door or devoured upon returning home. So a dish like this is absolutely perfect.
Some notes about how this recipe can be tweaked. Instead of making the seasoning from scratch, you can use a couple tablespoons of your favorite Cajun seasoning. You can also use leftover diced chicken - toss with the season and give it a short warm up in the skillet instead of a cook from scratch thing. I love using fresh spinach and tomatoes in this because I think the flavor they impart this time of the year is nothing less than stunning. That said, thawed spinach and canned tomatoes could also be substituted or you could use a mix of other vegetables you have on hand.
This creamy chicken wants to be served over something. What's the something? Try mashed or roasted potatoes. Or a spicy rice pilaf. Or your favorite pasta. Heck, you could top a pizza with it and have Cajun Chicken Pizza with or without cheese over the top. Figure out what you love and do that!
- 1 ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. onion powder
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp. dried thyme
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 T. olive oil, divided
- 3 T. butter, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 c. whole milk or 2% milk
- 1 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp. cold water
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Chopped fresh spinach
- Chopped fresh tomatoes
In a small bowl, combine the smoked paprika, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and dried thyme. Alternately, you can use 2 tablespoons of your favorite cajun seasoning. Reserve 1 teaspoon of the seasoning mix.
Sprinkle the remaining seasoning over both sides of the chicken breast. Drizzle them with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and rub it in.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes on each side. The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Plate the chicken and cover it to keep it warm.
Melt 2 more tablespoons of butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and add the remaining cajun seasoning and the garlic. Cook for 1 minute while stirring continuously.
Add the milk to the pan. Mix the cornstarch and cold water to make a slurry. Simmer the milk over low heat; add the cornstarch slurry. Cook, stirring constantly until slightly thickened while scraping all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
Slice and add the chicken, fresh spinach, and fresh tomatoes to the skillet and simmer for a couple of minutes to warm. Serve warm with hot sauce on the table.
- Yields: 4-6 servings
- Preparation Time: 25 minutes