Chicken Thigh Ragù with Pappardelle


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. Slideshow: More Ideas for Chicken ThighsRecipe from Food & Wine America's Greatest New Cooks 

Chicken Thigh Ragù with Pappardelle
Photo: © Christina Holmes
Active Time:
1 hrs 45 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs


  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 2 red onions, 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, fat trimmed

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped sage

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar

  • 3/4 cup dry white wine

  • 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

  • 1 cup tomato sauce

  • 1/2 cup pitted Taggiasca or kalamata olives, halved

  • 3/4 pound fresh pappardelle or dried

  • 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.

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