Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pasta with a Creole Cream Sauce and Chicken Sausage

This dish was inspired by a container of Creole seasoning that my dad gave me.  I've always enjoyed these flavors, but had never cooked with them before.  I am really happy with how this turned out.
When I made this dish a month or so ago I posted a picture and description on Facebook.   Several people commented that they wanted the recipe.   Unfortunately, I hadn't followed a recipe.   I just made it up as I went along.  Which is what I do with most things in my life.
So I finally had a chance to try the dish again and wrote down the recipe along the way.  I even took pictures for you.  I hate when recipes don't have pictures!

Disclaimer: This is my first time ever writing an actual recipe.   I had no idea how difficult it is.  I have a new respect for chefs and cookbook writers.  Please let me know if you see any mistakes or if I need to expound on something further.

Servings: 2.5 (1)   
Calories: you don't want to know
Time: 15 minutes

1/2 box of pasta of your choice (2)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 package of Italian-style chicken sausage - PRE-COOKED(3)
1 tbsp Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning(4)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chili powder
3 tbsp UNSALTED butter
1 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste
Shredded Parmesan cheese

Begin cooking pasta of your choice according to the directions on the box.

Cut up sausage into medallions or bite size chunks.

(Please excuse my cell phone pictures. This sausage does not look appetizing at all but I swear it was good.)
Heat olive oil in a 10"-12" heavy bottom skillet over medium-high heat.

Once olive oil has heated (you'll see ripples) add sausage then sprinkle with creole seasoning, pepper and chili powder.

Cook for 2-3 minutes over medium high heat to get a nice "browning".
Lower heat to medium and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes to heat through.  (Remember: the sausage I'm using is precooked.)

Remove sausage from pan and place on a paper towel over a plate to drain excess oil.

Put pan back on burner over low heat.
Add a tablespoon of butter to deglaze the pan - while the butter is melting, scrape up all the "tasty bits" at the bottom of the pan.(5)
Slowly add the next 2 tablespoons of butter while stirring and scraping the pan.
When butter has melted, turn heat back up to medium.
Add 1/4 cup of cream and stir.
Once cream is incorporated, add the next 1/4 cup and so on until you've incorporated the whole cup.

At this point, you should taste your sauce.   You'll probably need to add a pinch of salt to bring the cream and butter together - but don't add too much since the creole seasoning is very salty.
If needed, add more butter and/or cream until the flavor and consistency are just right.

By now, your pasta has been cooked and drained.
Return your pasta to the pot, add the sauce and sausage and stir.   Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese (which I forgot this time so it's not in the picture) and enjoy!

Special Notes:
  1. Feeds 2 adults and one toddler, or 2 people with some leftovers.   (It's great the next day!)
  2. We like San Giorgio's Trio Italiano, which is a nice combo of shells, penne and corkscrews - lots of places for the sauce to pool. 
  3. I've also made this with traditional Italian Sausage and with boneless/skinless chicken breasts.   If you use chicken, you'll want to go heavy on the Creole seasoning to bring up the flavor "volume."   Obviously, if you use chicken or uncooked sausage, you'll want to cook it longer than I've indicated in the recipe.  My sausage came pre-cooked.*
  4. We like things very spicy at our house, so if 1 tbsp of the Creole seasoning scares you, maybe start with 1 or 2 teaspoons.
  5. I use a high-temp silicone spatula that is firm and not at all floppy - it works great for this type of thing.   Also, "tasty bits" is a highly technical term.
This dish would also be fabulous with vegetables added.  I think red peppers and mushrooms would be especially tasty.
Many thanks are due to my parents, PBS and the Food Network for teaching me to cook.  And many, many thanks to Dan for eating my experiments. :)

*They have pre-wrapped sausages but they don't have pre-wrapped bacon. Well, can you blame them?

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