1/21/22

Cajun Pastalaya (Jambalaya Pasta with Sausage and Chicken)

A flavor-packed Cajun pasta recipe made with sausage and chicken – like jambalaya but made with noodles instead of rice.

I was staring at FB the other day with my morning coffee and saw that my buddy, Patrick had made a pot of pastalaya. Patrick and I went to middle and high school together and are still friends now. Isn’t it weird when the people you were once young and dumb with are the people you run into toting around your own kids? 

The older your kids get, the more you all give each other the look when someone starts bringing up old times. Like, don’t you dare tell them we used to climb the water tower. Or, if you say one word about that night the cops busted the bait shop for selling us beer, I will look you right in your eyeballs and cuss you for a liar.

Cajun Pastalaya (Jambalaya Pasta with Sausage & Chicken) - A flavor-packed Cajun pasta recipe made with sausage and chicken – like jambalaya but made with noodles instead of rice.

Anyway, Patrick and his mama, Ms. Arletha, are great cooks and are known for it. I know that somewhere in their family there’s some Cajun roots so I asked Patrick which type of pasta he uses in his pastalaya.

I think spaghetti noodles are traditional though most recipes I’ve ever seen online use some sort of bite-sized pasta. I was curious what Pat used and sure enough, he said he uses spaghetti noodles.

I thought about making this batch with spaghetti but since I’ve always made mine with a rigid pasta (like penne, rigatoni or corkscrew), I decided to just make it the way I always do. I sincerely apologize to everyone on the gulf coast if that breaks any official pastalaya laws!

Cajun Pastalaya (Jambalaya Pasta with Sausage & Chicken) - A flavor-packed Cajun pasta recipe made with sausage and chicken – like jambalaya but made with noodles instead of rice.

WHAT IS PASTALAYA?

Pastalaya is jambalaya made with pasta instead of rice. Sausage, pork, chicken, shrimp or any combination are cooked with Cajun or Creole spices and the Holy Trinity (onion, bell pepper and celery) to create a base of concentrated flavor. Broth is then added which the pasta cooks in. Some recipes add tomatoes of some sort and some don’t.

Creole jambalaya has tomatoes whereas Cajun Jambalaya doesn’t so I suppose the same might be true for pastalaya. I don’t add tomatoes to mine so I reckon my version is a Cajun pastalaya. If you’d like to add tomatoes, use a can of petite diced tomatoes or Rotel (drained) when you add the broth.

Cajun Pastalaya (Jambalaya Pasta with Sausage & Chicken) - A flavor-packed Cajun pasta recipe made with sausage and chicken – like jambalaya but made with noodles instead of rice.

At a glance, it looks like my pastalaya already has tomatoes in it somewhere (like tomato sauce, paste or crushed tomatoes) because of the warm orange/red color but it doesn’t. That gorgeous color comes from all the layering of flavors.

The andouille or smoked sausage is cooked in oil until nicely browned which gives us the first layer of flavor and color. Then the chicken is browned in the same oil which darkens and flavors the base even more. Then the Holy Trinity is cooked until it browns a little. And THEN, for the final kicker, flour is added and cooked until the bottom of the pan is coated in a golden brown concentration of culinary magic.

When you add the broth and water, the pan is then deglazed so that every single ounce of flavor and love is now swirled into a flavor-packed stew. And THAT is what the pasta is cooked in. Man, DANG! My mouth’s watering just thinking about how good those noodles are!

Cajun Pastalaya (Jambalaya Pasta with Sausage & Chicken) - A flavor-packed Cajun pasta recipe made with sausage and chicken – like jambalaya but made with noodles instead of rice.

I seriously doubt the heavy cream I hit this with at the end is traditional but I love what it does. The cream melds with the remaining thickened liquid in the pot after the pasta has cooked and creates a silky sauce.

If you’re serving this to a crowd and it sits around a while, you’ll likely want to stir in a little more cream or broth every so often because the pasta will soak up the sauce and start to dry out a bit. You’ll also want to add a little cream or broth when reheating it the next day.

Or, if you’re a purist, you can leave it out all together. There’s not really a wrong way to make a dish like this once you’ve covered the basics in the first steps before adding the liquid and cooking the pasta.

Cajun Pastalaya (Jambalaya Pasta with Sausage & Chicken) - A flavor-packed Cajun pasta recipe made with sausage and chicken – like jambalaya but made with noodles instead of rice.

I really don’t get using Cream of Something Soup in pastalaya like some recipes do. You already have everything you need to make the equivalent of it in the pot – you just need to add a little flour (for a roux) and extra liquid (that’s what the water or milk are for in the recipe).

That’s all Cream of Something Soup is – a bechamel sauce (or roux) made with flour, mixed with milk and water, seasoned with chicken or mushrooms or whatever.

Plus, if I’m making a recipe that requires fresh vegetables, this much prep, and over three pounds of meat, I want to do the rest of it from scratch too. Ya know?

Cajun Pastalaya (Jambalaya Pasta with Sausage & Chicken) - A flavor-packed Cajun pasta recipe made with sausage and chicken – like jambalaya but made with noodles instead of rice.

A FEW NOTES ABOUT MAKING THIS RECIPE:

  • I used corkscrew pasta in the batch pictured here but have used penne and rigatoni in the past. Bowtie pasta can be used though it is more delicate and may not hold up as well as the others. 
  • Yes, you can use chicken breasts (but thighs are better).
  • You can add shrimp if you’d like! Either sauté after the sausage (before or instead of chicken) then add after the pasta has cooked OR add raw shrimp halfway through cooking the pasta (the shrimp will only need a few minutes to cook).
  • I use my 9-quart dutch oven to make this dish which is 12-in wide. If you don’t have anything that big, cook everything in a very wide skillet through Step 5 then transfer to a large pot to finish with the pasta.
  • You can use water or milk in this recipe. The batch pictured here was made with water but if you’d like a creamier dish (more on the alfredo side), use milk.
  • The heavy cream is optional (and probably not traditional) but makes the sauce luxuriously silky and rich.
  • Any Cajun and/or Creole seasoning can be used but some are saltier and spicier than others. Start with 2 tablespoons then add more if needed. Add cayenne pepper if your seasoning blend isn’t as spicy as you’d like.
  • Add a can of petite diced tomatoes or Rotel (drain first) when you add the broth if desired.
  • I used 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Zatarain's Creole Seasoning when writing this recipe. Zatarain's is on the salty side so you may need more if using another brand.

Pasta, noodles, jambalaya, cajun, creole, traditional, holy trinity, smoked, sausage, chicken, shrimp, corkscrew, bowtie, penne, cream, creamy, best, how to, recipe, spaghetti, cheesecake factory, copycat
dinner, supper, main dish
cajun
Yield: 8 Servings
Author: Mandy Rivers | South Your Mouth
Cajun Pastalaya (Jambalaya Pasta with Sausage & Chicken)

Cajun Pastalaya (Jambalaya Pasta with Sausage & Chicken)

A flavor-packed Cajun pasta recipe made with sausage and chicken – like jambalaya but made with noodles instead of rice.
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 35 MinTotal time: 50 Min

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs andouille or smoked sausage
  • 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups diced celery
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water or milk
  • 2-4 tablespoons Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 lb (16-oz) pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Cut sausage and chicken into bite-sized pieces, trimming excess fat from chicken thighs.
  2. Sauté sausage over medium heat in olive oil in a wide pan or dutch oven until nicely browned. Remove sausage to a bowl using a slotted spoon; set aside. Pro tip: once in the bowl, carefully pour excess oil from the bowl back to the pan. The seasoned oil gives the dish tons of flavor and color.
  3. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Working in 2-3 batches (so not to overcrowd the pan), add chicken to pan then cook over medium-high or high heat until nicely browned (we want to brown the chicken as much as we can without burning the bottom of the pan). There should be plenty of oil in the pan but add more if necessary. Remove chicken from pan using a slotted spoon; set aside.
  4. Reduce heat to medium then add butter, celery, bell pepper and onion. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add garlic then continue cooking for 2 minutes. Stir in flour then continue cooking for 5 minutes. The bottom of the pan should be dark golden brown and veggies very tender.
  5. Add chicken broth, water, 2 tablespoons Cajun or Creole seasoning and pepper then increase heat to medium-high. Stir with a whisk until smooth, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Taste for seasoning then add more seasoning until broth is as salty as you’d like the pasta to be. Add cayenne pepper for extra heat if you’d like.
  6. Once the broth starts to simmer, stir in pasta, sausage and chicken. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover then cook until pasta is just tender (usually the time indicated on the box), stirring occasionally. Do not overcook the pasta.
  7. Remove from heat, uncover then let rest 10 minutes. Gently stir in heavy cream then serve.

Notes:

  • I used corkscrew pasta in the batch pictured here but have used penne and rigatoni in the past. Bowtie pasta can be used though it is more delicate and may not hold up as well as the others. 
  • Yes, you can use chicken breasts (but thighs are better).
  • You can add shrimp if you’d like! Either sauté after the sausage (before or instead of chicken) then add after the pasta has cooked OR add raw shrimp half way through cooking the pasta (the shrimp will only need a few minutes to cook).
  • I use my 9-quart dutch oven to make this dish which is 12-in wide. If you don’t have anything that big, cook everything in a very wide skillet through Step 5 then transfer to a large pot to finish with the pasta.
  • You can use water or milk in this recipe. The batch pictured here was made with water but if you’d like a creamier dish (more on the alfredo side), use milk.
  • The heavy cream is optional (and probably not traditional) but makes the sauce luxuriously silky and rich.
  • To reheat or if the pasta starts to dry out, stir in more heavy cream.
  • Any Cajun and/or Creole seasoning can be used but some are saltier and spicier than others. Start with 2 tablespoons then add more if needed. Add cayenne pepper if your seasoning blend isn’t as spicy as you’d like.
  • Add a can of petite diced tomatoes or Rotel (drain first) when you add the broth if desired.
  • I used 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Zatarain's Creole Seasoning when writing this recipe. Zatarain's is on the salty side so you may need more if using another brand.
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 lbs andouille or smoked sausage
  • 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups diced celery
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water or milk
  • 2-4 tablespoons Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 lb (16-oz) pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cut sausage and chicken into bite-sized pieces, trimming excess fat from chicken thighs.
  2. Sauté sausage over medium heat in olive oil in a wide pan or dutch oven until nicely browned. Remove sausage to a bowl using a slotted spoon; set aside. Pro tip: once in the bowl, carefully pour excess oil from the bowl back to the pan. The seasoned oil gives the dish tons of flavor and color.
  3. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Working in 2-3 batches (so not to overcrowd the pan), add chicken to pan then cook over medium-high or high heat until nicely browned (we want to brown the chicken as much as we can without burning the bottom of the pan). There should be plenty of oil in the pan but add more if necessary. Remove chicken from pan using a slotted spoon; set aside.
  4. Reduce heat to medium then add butter, celery, bell pepper and onion. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add garlic then continue cooking for 2 minutes. Stir in flour then continue cooking for 5 minutes. The bottom of the pan should be dark golden brown and veggies very tender.
  5. Add chicken broth, water, 2 tablespoons Cajun or Creole seasoning and pepper then increase heat to medium-high. Stir with a whisk until smooth, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Taste for seasoning then add more seasoning until broth is as salty as you’d like the pasta to be. Add cayenne pepper for extra heat if you’d like.
  6. Once the broth starts to simmer, stir in pasta, sausage and chicken. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover then cook until pasta is just tender (usually the time indicated on the box), stirring occasionally. Do not overcook the pasta.
  7. Remove from heat, uncover then let rest 10 minutes. Gently stir in heavy cream then serve.


3 comments:

  1. Mandy, I use your same pasta. It is one of my favorites. Holds up under anything you make with it. This sounds so good. When I make this dish I'll make 2 at the same time and give one to one of my neighbors or friends, thank you for this deliicious recipe

    ReplyDelete
  2. My mouth started watering as soon as I saw this dish! I can't wait to make it, you always have the best cozy recipes!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fantastic. Great recipe! Was so good.

    ReplyDelete

Hi there! While I’m not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven’t been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments.

I can tell you now 1) I have no idea if you can substitute Minute Rice or brown rice in my recipes because I’ve never used them and 2) If I know how to convert a recipe to a Crock Pot version, I will make a note about it (otherwise, I don’t know).

And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y’all! - Mandy