Chicken Thigh Ragù with Pappardelle
© Christina Holmes

Chicken Thigh Ragù with Pappardelle

  • ACTIVE: 1 HR 45 MIN

Most ragùs require beef, pork or veal—meats that would overwhelm Justin Smillie’s light tomato-and-olive sauce here—so he opts for guinea hen or rabbit. Chicken thighs are also tasty and easier to find.


  1. 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  2. 1 tablespoon sugar
  3. 2 red onions, chopped
  4. 1 fennel bulb—halved, cored and chopped
  5. 1 celery rib, chopped
  6. 1 carrot, chopped
  7. 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  8. 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  9. 1/2 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  10. 2 pounds skinless bone-in chicken thighs, fat trimmed
  11. Kosher salt
  12. Freshly ground pepper
  13. 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
  14. 1 tablespoon finely chopped sage
  15. 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  16. 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  17. 3/4 cup dry white wine
  18. 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  19. 1 cup tomato sauce
  20. 1/2 cup pitted Taggiasca or kalamata olives, halved
  21. 3/4 pound fresh pappardelle or dried
  22. Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
  1. In a small bowl, combine the porcini mushrooms with the sugar, cover with hot water and let soak until the mushrooms have softened, about 30 minutes. Drain and chop the porcini.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the onions, fennel, celery, carrot and garlic and pulse until very finely chopped.
  3. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate.
  4. Season the chicken 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.
  5. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the casserole. Add the chopped vegetables and a generous pinch each 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, sage, tomato paste and porcini. 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 stock and tomato sauce and bring to a boil.
  6. Return the chicken thighs to the casserole. 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 the ragù with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  7. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pappardelle until al dente. Drain well. In a large bowl, gently toss the pappardelle with the ragù and serve, passing freshly grated cheese at the table.
Make Ahead
The ragù can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Ripe, juicy Italian white.