Though chicken is tasty, eating the the same chicken breast dinners night after night can quickly become boring. When I want a change in my routine, but don't want to sacrifice taste I will prepare chicken thighs instead of breasts. Thighs are more flavorful, affordable, and much juicer than breasts.
Thighs are sophisticated enough to serve at a formal meal, yet easy enough to prepare any night of the week. The rustic pasta dish below features chicken thighs which have been braised, shredded and turned into a delicious ragu.
Pasta With Chicken Thigh Ragu
1 red onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb—halved, cored and chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 pounds skinless bone-in chicken thighs
salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups water or chicken broth
1 cup Pomi sauce
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
3/4 pound pasta
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
Combine the onions, fennel, celery, carrot and garlic in a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pancetta to a plate using a slotted spoon.
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add it to the casserole. Cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the casserole. Add the chopped vegetables and a generous pinch of salt and pepper; cook over moderately low heat until the vegetables are softened and just starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in the rosemary, and tomato paste. Add the vinegar and cook over moderate heat until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the water/stock and Pomi tomato sauce and bring to a boil.
Return the chicken thighs to the pot. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until the chicken is very tender, about 1 hour. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let cool slightly, then remove the meat from the bones. Shred the chicken and stir it into the sauce along with the olives and reserved pancetta. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well. In a large bowl, gently toss the pasta with the ragu and serve with grated cheese.