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~ Recipe Necessity ~ Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta As a kid I was always wanted to be American. Now before you throw me overboard for being an anti-patriotic mutineer, let me explain. This desire wasn’t about not wanting to be Canadian, it was about being able to have access to the cool stuff they had and we didn’t. I remember a trip to Florida at the age of 7, when I discovered Combos and Butterfingers (yes, there was a time they didn’t exist up here.) I would hound my poor mother each day to take me to the beach snack-shack to get my daily-fix. As I got older these pangs of jealously only increased with each visit south of the border. Besides Abercrombie and Fitch, Victoria’s Secret and Target- most of my resentment was directed at the food and the restaurants. The most notable of which- Resse’s Peanut Butter, Sierra Mist, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, PinkBerry, Chili’s and last but not least - The Cheesecake Factory. Ahhhh, the Cheesecake Factory. First, let me preface what I am about to say with I am fairly confident in my epicurean standards. I have been lucky enough to eat at some pretty amazing places, Raymond Blanc’s double Michelin starred La Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons and Lumiere for example. I’m just saying I ain’t no rookie. Hoping that is enough to bolster my defense…… I think The Cheesecake Factory is one of the best restaurants -ever. Yes, it is a big box American chain. Yes, they refused to release the nutritional value of any item on their menu and when they were forced to by law nothing was under 1200 calories. Yes, the portion sizes are massive enough to feed a small village and yes, you have to wait with the great unwashed and be notified that your table is ready with one of those flashing vibrating coasters. But I don’t care, it is amazing. And I’m not alone. Just ask any guy in the NBA. Ok, so they may not be Ruth Reichl, but it’s something. With over 200 items in the book (menu) there is something for everyone and everything is good, but I can never order anything but The Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta. While I was attending teachers college in Buffalo I became a CCF regular and was able to get my fix once a week, but after school was out I was in serious withdrawal. Out of necessity I had to recreate the Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta. I managed to do it on the first go which, in all fairness, is the beauty of cooking as opposed to baking. It doesn’t require molecular science. So I will save you, at least for now, running for the border with my recreation. Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Serves 4 1 or 2 Boneless Chicken Breasts (Skin on or off - your choice) 8 oz. (2 Cups) Penne Pasta Juice of one Lemon 3 Tablespoons of Honey 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil 1 Can Chipotles in Adobo Sauce* 1/2 Yellow Pepper diced 1/2 Red Pepper diced 1 Clove of garlic minced finely 1/2 cup White onion finely diced 2 Cups of Heavy Cream (18%) or any type of cream you like 3/4 Cup Frozen Peas 10 Spears of Asparagus cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces Cilantro (if you like it) 1 cup of Parmesan Cheese 1 Tortilla ** optional Preheat your oven to 350°F In a small dish mix the juice of one lemon with 2 tablespoons of the honey, a pinch of salt and pepper until well blended. Place the chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag or a small dish and pour the marinade over. I usually do this it right before cooking, but you can let it marinate for up to 24 hours ahead of time if you like. Mix your diced asparagus with 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil and a pinch of salt and pepper and spread evenly in a baking pan or on a piece of tinfoil with the edges turned up. Place in your preheated oven. In a large frying pan, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil up for a good minute or two at medium high heat and put in your chicken along with all the marinade. (One of the most important things in cooking is getting your oil hot before you put your meat in.) Once your chicken is in, turn the heat to about medium and let it cook. Resist! Don’t turn it or poke it until it is golden brown on the first side, you want the honey to caramelize, just keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. After about 7 or 8 minutes turn it over and repeat on the other side. Once your chicken is cooked (15 minutes) and golden brown on both sides remove it to a dish and cover with tinfoil to keep warm. At this point check on your asparagus and give them a bit of a toss to roast them evenly. Taste one carefully - if it is cooked, remove from the oven and put off to the side. If they need more time put them back in and keep checking them until they are done. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and make sure you add a good amount of salt to the water. Italians say your pasta water should taste like sea water! Add your penne (you want to cook it according to the package timing but it is usually about 10-11 minutes- be careful not to over cook it, set a timer!) Using the same pan you cooked your chicken in, turn the heat to medium and add 2 Tablespoon of olive oil. Scrape all of the golden chicken honey juices from the bottom of the pan around into the oil and add your chopped onion and garlic. Saute until the onions and garlic are soft about 5 minutes. Add the remaining Tablespoon of honey. Add your chopped red and yellow pepper and frozen peas into the mix and saute for another 2 minutes. Cut your cooked chicken on the diagonal into bite sized pieces and add them back into the pan. At this point open your can of Chipotles and remove the whole chipotles and put aside (you can freeze them or make chipotle mayo.) This is where personal preference comes in, in terms of heat. Have a little taste of the red adobo sauce to see how spicy it is - each can varies - and then add as much or as little as you like to the pan. I usually do between 2 and 3 Tablespoons of the sauce for SPICY. But, start off adding a small amount of the adobo sauce to your fry pan and add more if needed, tasting your sauce as you go. Check your pasta and see how it is doing. If it is ready drain it, but whatever you do DO NOT rinse it. This is a pasta crime, you rinse away all the starch that absorbs your sauce. After you drain it put it back in the warm pot, off the heat with a tiny bit of oil to keep it from sticking. If its not ready let it cook, but keep checking it. Now add all of your cream to your fry pan slowly mixing it well. Sprinkle in your grated Parmesan cheese and cook for another 5 minutes to reduce the sauce a little bit and thicken it. At this point taste your sauce. If you want it more spicy add more chipotle sauce or more cream to make it not as spicy. Add your cooked pasta to the big fry pan with your sauce or the sauce to the pasta pot with the pasta, whichever has more room. Wherever it ends up turn the heat onto medium low and mix your pasta and sauce well and get it hot. Add your roasted asparagus and mix gently. Chop up come cilantro, if you like it and sprinkle over and serve. EAT! * You can find chipotles in adobo sauce in most grocery stores these day. Have a look in the Mexican section. ** If you are adventurous you can cut a tortilla or two into strips and deep fry in canola oil until crispy and sprinkle over top of your pasta. This is how they do it at the Cheesecake Factory but I like it better without. Since Tumblr blog sites don’t allow comments, if you have any questions or comments you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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