Discover the Rattlesnake Pasta that has been taking the culinary world by storm! This dish from J. Alexander's has become a crowd favorite, thanks to its bold flavors and satisfying texture. And now, you can easily recreate this mouthwatering dish at home with the help of a step-by-step instructional video on YouTube, crafted by the esteemed chef and Vice President of Culinary Operations for J. Alexander's, Ian Dodson. This engaging resource is perfect for home cooks eager to impress their guests with a restaurant-quality meal from their kitchens.
- Take the time to make the roux: The roux is a key element of the Alfredo sauce in Rattlesnake Pasta. Making it slowly and carefully produces a smooth, creamy sauce that reheats well without clumping or separating.
- Adjust the spice level to your liking: Cajun seasoning and jalapeños are critical ingredients in Rattlesnake Pasta. However, you can adjust the spice to your liking by adding more or less seasoning and removing some or all of the jalapeño seeds.
- Don't overcrowd the pan: When cooking the chicken and vegetables for the dish, leave enough space in the pan to ensure even cooking. So cook in batches if needed.
What is rattlesnake pasta?
Rattlesnake Pasta is a popular dish that combines pasta with a spicy, creamy sauce featuring flavors reminiscent of Southwestern or Tex-Mex cuisine. While there are many variations, the dish typically includes the following ingredients:
- Pasta: Fettuccine or penne pasta is commonly used, but any pasta shape can work depending on personal preference.
- Protein: Grilled or sautéed chicken, shrimp, or steak can be used. The name "Rattlesnake" comes from the spicy kick in the sauce, not from rattlesnake meat.
- Vegetables: Bell peppers, onions, garlic, and tomatoes are often added.
- Sauce: A creamy sauce is prepared using heavy cream or half-and-half, grated cheese (such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or pepper jack), and spices like cayenne pepper, paprika, and black pepper for a spicy kick. Some variations also include adding jalapeño peppers or green chilies for extra heat.
Watch the video: How to make Rattlesnake pasta
Ingredients you'll need:
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (about 350 grams)
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 3 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 onion (finely minced)
- ⅓ cup flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 tap red chili pepper flakes (this is optional)
- 3 teaspoon cajun seasoning*
- 1-2 tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
- 1 red bell pepper (sliced)
- 1 green bell pepper (sliced)
- 2-3 jalapeños (sliced)*
- 1 ½ cups parmesan cheese (shredded)
As you proceed with the steps below, prepare the pasta by following the package instructions.
Step 2 Cook the chicken (in an air fryer)
- Rub the skinless, boneless chicken breasts with olive oil to coat them.
- In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning, 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of paprika, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Rub the spice mixture generously onto the chicken to fully coat it.
- Place the chicken in the air fryer and cook at 360°F for 9 minutes.
- Flip the chicken over. Continue cooking for another 9 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F.
- Allow the chicken to rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting into it. This crucial step allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring each bite is juicy and flavorful. If you cut into the chicken immediately after cooking, the juices will spill out onto your plate, resulting in a dry and less flavorful chicken.
Step 3 Prep the roux
In the pan, melt butter over medium heat. Combine onions and garlic, cooking for roughly 5 minutes while stirring now and then. Meanwhile, dice the bell peppers and slice the jalapeños.
Mix in flour, stirring until incorporated. The mixture may appear clumpy and odd, but don't worry. Trust the process, as it's normal during this stage.
Pour in 1 cup of milk. The mixture may appear unusual and somewhat unappealing due to separation, but don't be alarmed—it's all part of the process.
Blend in the milk, stirring until fully incorporated. Continue adding milk one cup at a time, ensuring it's thoroughly mixed before adding the next portion.
By now, the mixture should have achieved a smooth, consistent texture, except for the onions. Introduce the Cajun seasoning and chili pepper flakes (if preferred), stirring thoroughly to blend evenly.
At this point, the mixture should exhibit a smooth consistency, except for the onions. Incorporate the Cajun seasoning and chili pepper flakes, blending them in evenly if desired.
Add the diced bell peppers and sliced jalapeños to the mix, stirring to blend. Heat the sauce until it reaches a simmer.
Stir the sauce occasionally as it simmers for 5 minutes until it thickens to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. You don't have to stir it constantly but frequently enough to prevent burning.
Stir the Parmesan cheese into the mix, stirring until it's fully melted. Add the cooked chicken and pasta to the sauce, stirring to combine. Now it's time to indulge in your very own Rattlesnake Pasta!
Creating a roux-based Alfredo sauce results in a smooth, silky, and creamy consistency, despite being lighter than traditional Alfredo. Additionally, you'll notice that it reheats exceptionally well, with no separation or unsavory clumps.
- When adding cajun seasoning to your Rattlesnake Pasta, remember that different brands and blends can vary in intensity and saltiness. Depending on the salt content of your cajun seasoning, you may need to add salt to the sauce to achieve the perfect balance of flavors. Add the seasoning gradually and taste as you go, adjusting to your desired level of cajun flavor.
- It's all about personal preference. If you prefer a milder version of Rattlesnake Pasta, remove some or all of the seeds from the jalapeños before adding them to the sauce. However, if you're a fan of heat, leave the seeds in for added spiciness.
If using the jarred Alfredo sauce instead of roux
Here are the step-by-step instructions for using jarred Alfredo sauce in place of making the roux from scratch for the Rattlesnake Pasta recipe:
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions until it's al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Cut the chicken breasts into small cubes and cook them in a pan with some olive oil until they're no longer pink in the center. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside.
- Melt some butter in the same pan and sauté the onions, garlic, red and green bell peppers, and jalapeños until the vegetables are tender.
- Add the cooked chicken back to the pan and stir in the jar of Alfredo sauce. Cook the sauce and chicken together until heated through.
- Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and chicken mixture and toss to combine.
- Serve the Rattlesnake Pasta hot, topped with some grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
Using jarred Alfredo sauce instead of roux-based sauce will result in a slightly different texture and flavor, but it's still a delicious option if you're short on time or prefer the convenience of using the pre-made sauce.
Tips for the best juicy air fryer chicken
- Use olive oil to help crisp the skin and allow the spices and herbs to adhere to the meat, resulting in a deliciously seasoned chicken.
- Ensure even cooking by creating space between the chicken breasts. Avoid overcrowding, and if necessary, cook in batches.
- Check the temperature of the chicken earlier than you think to avoid overcooking it. Appliances can vary, so use a meat thermometer to ensure your chicken is perfectly cooked.
- Allow the chicken to rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting into it. This allows the juices to reabsorb into the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and moist chicken.
- Experiment with different spice blends to complement your menu. You can use Mexican, BBQ, Indian spices, and more for a quick and delicious way to cook your chicken.
- Consider marinating or brining your chicken before cooking for even greater juiciness and flavor. This will produce an even more tender and moist chicken that is perfect for your Rattlesnake Pasta recipe.
Variations for this recipe:
Here are a few variations to try out with Rattlesnake Pasta:
- Vegetarian Rattlesnake Pasta: Omit the chicken and instead add sliced mushrooms, zucchini, and yellow squash to the mix. Sauté these veggies in olive oil with garlic until cooked, then add them in with the peppers and onions.
- Spicy Rattlesnake Pasta: If you love a bit of heat, increase the amount of jalapeños and chili pepper flakes in the recipe. You can also experiment with different types of hot peppers, such as habanero or serrano, to find your desired level of spiciness.
- Seafood Rattlesnake Pasta: Swap out the chicken for shrimp, scallops, or crab meat. Sauté the seafood in a separate pan until cooked, then add it to the pasta and sauce mixture.
- Creamy Bacon Rattlesnake Pasta: Cook some bacon separately and chop it into small pieces. Add the bacon, chicken, and vegetables to the sauce and heavy cream to create an even creamier sauce.
- Healthy Rattlesnake Pasta: Use whole wheat or gluten-free pasta, and swap out the heavy cream for a lighter option, such as Greek yogurt or coconut milk. Add extra veggies, such as broccoli or asparagus, to boost the dish's nutritional value.
Do you want less spicy rattlesnake pasta?
If you prefer less spicy Rattlesnake Pasta, you can make a few adjustments to the recipe:
- Reduce the amount of jalapeños and chili pepper flakes you add to the dish.
- Remove the seeds and membranes from the jalapeños before dicing them, as this is where most of the heat comes from.
- If you're using canned jalapeños, look for a milder variety, or rinse them in cold water to reduce their heat.
- Use a mild Cajun seasoning or substitute it with different herbs and spices, such as Italian seasoning or garlic powder.
- Add a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt to the finished dish to help cool down the spiciness.
Substitutions for this recipe.
Here are some substitution options for Rattlesnake Pasta:
- Meat substitutions: Instead of chicken, you can use other meats like pork, beef, or turkey.
- Vegetarian substitutions: Omit the meat and use tofu, tempeh, or seitan. You can also add more veggies like mushrooms, zucchini, or eggplant.
- Pasta substitutions: You can use any pasta you prefer, such as spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine. Gluten-free or whole-wheat pasta can also be used as a substitute.
- Milk substitutions: If you are lactose intolerant or vegan, you can substitute whole milk with almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk.
- Cheese substitutions: If you don't have parmesan cheese, you can use romano, asiago, or another hard, salty cheese.
- Seasoning substitutions: You can use other types of seasonings instead of cajun seasonings, such as Italian seasoning, garlic powder, or paprika. Adjust the seasoning to your taste preferences.
- Cream substitution: You can substitute the heavy cream with plain Greek yogurt or coconut cream for a lighter version of the recipe. This will still give the sauce a creamy texture but with fewer calories and less fat.
- Gluten-free substitution: To make the recipe gluten-free, you can use gluten-free pasta instead of traditional pasta. Many types of gluten-free pasta are available, such as brown rice pasta, quinoa pasta, or chickpea pasta. Check the cooking time, as gluten-free pasta may cook faster or slower than regular pasta.
How to store the leftovers?
To store the leftovers of Rattlesnake Pasta, follow these simple steps:
- Cool the pasta: Let it cool down to room temperature before storing it. This will prevent condensation from forming inside the container.
- Divide into portions: Divide the pasta into individual portions if possible, rather than storing it as one large batch. This will make it easier to reheat and prevent waste.
- Choose a container: Transfer the pasta to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. Ensure the container is large enough to hold the pasta without being too full.
- Label and date: Label the container with the date you cooked the pasta and the contents inside. This will help you track when it was made and prevent you from keeping it too long.
Avoid leaving the pasta at room temperature for too long, as this can cause bacteria to grow and lead to food poisoning. Also, avoid reheating the pasta multiple times, as this can also increase the risk of foodborne illness.
Note: If the pasta becomes too thick after refrigeration, you can add a splash of milk or water to thin out the sauce before reheating.
Can you freeze the leftovers?
Yes, you can freeze Rattlesnake Pasta leftovers. Here's a detailed guide on how to freeze the pasta properly:
- Cool the pasta: Allow the pasta to cool to room temperature before freezing. This will prevent condensation from forming inside the container, which can lead to freezer burn.
- Choose a container: Transfer the pasta to an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. Make sure the container is labeled with the date and contents.
- Remove excess air: If using a freezer-safe bag, squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing. This will prevent freezer burn and help the pasta stay fresh.
- Freeze: Place the container or bag in the freezer for 2-3 months.
- Thaw: When ready to eat, remove the pasta from the freezer and thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. If you're in a hurry, you can thaw it in the microwave using the defrost setting.
- Reheat: Once the pasta is thawed, reheat it using the methods described in the previous answer.
When freezing pasta, it's best to freeze it without the sauce. The pasta will absorb the sauce as it thaws and reheats, which can make it mushy. Instead, freeze the pasta separately from the sauce, then combine them once reheated. Additionally, avoid refreezing thawed pasta, as this can cause bacteria to grow and lead to food poisoning.
How to properly reheat the leftovers?
- Thaw the pasta (if frozen): If the pasta is frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or use the defrost setting on your microwave.
- Add liquid (if necessary): If the pasta is dry or clumpy, add a small amount of liquid, such as milk or chicken broth, to help loosen it up.
- Choose a reheating method: There are several ways to reheat the pasta, including the microwave, stovetop, or oven. Choose the method that works best for you.
- Microwave: Place the pasta in a microwave-safe dish, cover it with a damp paper towel, and microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir the pasta, then microwave for an additional 30 seconds until heated through.
- Stovetop: Heat a small amount of oil or butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the pasta and stir until heated through about 3-4 minutes.
- Oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Transfer the pasta to an oven-safe dish, cover it with foil, and bake for 10-15 minutes until heated.
- Check the temperature: Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the pasta, which should be at least 165°F to kill any bacteria.
- Enjoy: Once the pasta is heated through, serve immediately and enjoy!
Avoid reheating the pasta multiple times, as this can increase the risk of foodborne illness. Also, make sure to refrigerate any leftovers promptly to prevent bacteria growth.
Tips and tricks for making the perfect Rattlesnake pasta.
- Cook the pasta al dente: Cook the pasta until it is al dente, which means it should be cooked through but still have a slight bite. Overcooked pasta can become mushy and clump together when combined with the sauce.
- Use fresh ingredients: Use fresh ingredients, especially the jalapeños and parmesan cheese. This will give the pasta a brighter flavor and ensure the cheese melts smoothly into the sauce.
- Make a roux: Making a roux with flour and butter helps thicken the sauce and create a creamy texture without heavy cream. This makes the dish lighter and easier to reheat.
- Season to taste: Adjust the amount of cajun seasoning and chili flakes based on your spice preference. You can also experiment with other seasonings, such as garlic powder or paprika.
- Don't overcook the chicken: Overcooked chicken can become dry and tough. Ensure to cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, but avoid cooking it too long.
- Use a mix of bell peppers: Using both red and green bell peppers adds a pop of color and flavor to the dish.
- Add the cheese slowly: Add the parmesan cheese to the sauce, constantly stirring, to ensure it melts smoothly and doesn't clump up.
- Let the pasta sit in the sauce: After combining the pasta with the sauce, let it sit for a few minutes to allow the pasta to absorb the flavors of the sauce.
- Use a non-stick pan: Using a non-stick pan will prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom and make it easier to clean up.
- Experiment with toppings: Try topping the pasta with additional grated parmesan cheese, chopped fresh parsley, or crispy bacon bits for an extra flavor boost.
Don't skip making the roux as directed above for the best texture and flavor in your Rattlesnake Pasta. Although it takes 2-3 minutes, the resulting texture is worth the extra effort. The roux method produces a smooth, creamy Alfredo sauce that reheats well without separating or clumping. So, take your time making the roux, and you'll be rewarded with top-notch Rattlesnake Pasta.
What goes well with rattlesnake pasta
Rattlesnake pasta is a flavorful and satisfying dish that can be paired with various sides to create a complete meal. Here are some suggestions for what to serve alongside your rattlesnake pasta:
- Garlic Bread: A classic side dish that pairs perfectly with the pasta's rich and creamy Alfredo sauce. Make garlic bread at home by toasting slices of French bread with butter and minced garlic, or pick up a loaf from your local bakery.
- Roasted Vegetables: Roasting vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, or brussels sprouts is a great way to add color and nutrition to your meal. Toss your veggies in olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roast in the oven until tender and slightly caramelized.
- Side Salad: A simple side salad is a great way to balance out the richness of the pasta. Mix your favorite greens, such as arugula, spinach, or romaine lettuce, with cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, and a light vinaigrette.
- Grilled Chicken: If you want to add extra protein to your meal, grilled chicken is a great option. Season your chicken breasts with Cajun seasoning, grill until cooked, and slice thinly to serve alongside the pasta.
- Wine: A glass of wine can perfectly accompany your rattlesnake pasta. Choose a white wine such as Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio, which pair well with the creamy Alfredo sauce, or a red wine such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon for a bolder flavor.