A Fowl of a Different Feather

Yesterday I wrote about the pasta I had made for the Italian cooking class I recently taught at the B&B.  The pasta was used in the entree of  Pappardelle with Chicken Ragu.  This recipe originally started out as a Pappardelle with Duck Ragu.  Duck is hard to find in this neck of the woods.  Occasionally you can find it frozen at the grocery store but that’s usually around the holidays; and they are long since past.  So I decided to do a substitution using chicken thighs and found the dish to be different but as enjoyable as the duck version.

Don’t be put off by the number of ingredients. This dish entails a fair amount of chopping and prep work.  But the results are well worth the effort and a great dish if you’re serving it as an entree at a dinner party as there is very little last-minute work to be done, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy your guests!


Pappardelle with Chicken Ragù             Serves 6


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 lbs chicken thighs, skin and excess fat removed
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 6 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 ounces prosciutto, finely chopped
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, ground to a powder in a spice grinder
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 8 ounces dried pappardelle noodles
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add to the casserole. Cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, about 8 minutes; transfer to a plate.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the casserole. Add the shallots, carrot, celery, prosciutto, rosemary, thyme and garlic. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the porcini powder and wine. Simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the casserole, until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Return the chicken thighs to the casserole, cover and braise in the oven until the thighs are very tender, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Transfer the chicken thighs to a plate and let them cool slightly. Remove the chicken meat from the bones and shred into bite-size pieces. Return the chicken to the ragù and season with salt and pepper; keep warm. Discard the rosemary stems.

In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the pappardelle until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water.

Add the pasta to the ragù along with 3/4 cup of the reserved cooking water and the 2 tablespoons of pecorino. Cook over moderate heat, stirring gently, until the pasta is hot and coated with sauce; add more cooking water if the sauce is too thick. Transfer the pasta to shallow bowls, serve, passing additional pecorino at the table.

MAKE AHEAD The ragù can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently before serving.

A couple of hints:

  • Quick way to clean your spice grinder – grind 2 – 3 tbl of uncooked white rice in the grinder.  Discard the rice powder and brush or wipe the grinder clean.
  • I have tried this dish slicing the garlic and mashing the garlic into a paste.  Slicing is better – just be careful not to burn the garlic or it will be bitter.

Last but not least, as I was working on this blog I had an idea to try this in the pressure cooker as a way to reduce the cooking time.  My menu for the coming week is already planned and food purchased but could be an option for the week after next.  I’ll share the results when I’ve completed the experiment.



This entry was posted in Cooking, Cooking class, Food, Italian, Kitchen tools, Recipes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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