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Playing Spring Chicken with Meat Sauce and Papardelle


  • 3 small pieces split chicken breast, bone-in, skin-on
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 small to medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small rib celery, finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • A few sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • A little freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 pound papardelle or fettuccini
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (for a nutty taste) or grated Pecorino-Romano (if you prefer a sharp, tangy taste) for tossing with pasta and for passing at table
  • 1 cup basil, loosely packed


Serves: 4


Rinse and dry chicken breasts. Place chicken in a medium Dutch oven or other pot with tight fitting lid. Add a few bay leaves to pot. Peel and quarter an onion, leaving the root end in tact. Arrange with chicken and bay leaves then add water to the pot to come up to the top of chicken without covering it. Bring to a boil and drop heat to simmer. Cover pot and poach chicken about 15-20 minutes. Cool meat, strain and reserve 2 cups of cooking liquid. Remove skin and bones and shred meat into small pieces with forks or your hands.

Heat EVOO in Dutch oven, a couple of turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, a medium onion, finely chopped and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme and cook 8 minutes to soften. Add tomato paste and stir 1 minute. Stir in wine then reserved cooking liquids. Add chicken to sauce and bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and stir in milk, then season with a little nutmeg. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes over low heat.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta. Add papardelle or fettuccini and cook to al dente. Reserve a ladle of starchy cooking liquid just before draining pasta. Toss drained pasta with cooking liquid, half the sauce and a handful of cheese.

Serve pasta in shallow bowls topped with remaining sauce and torn basil, a little more cheese for topping.