I love dishes like this one where meat is slowly cooked in sauce. The aroma of the dish is simply intoxicating as it cooks, and you not only end up with a delicious main dish meat course, you also have a exceptionally tasty sauce that you can serve on pasta for your first course. Cooking most types of meat in a combination of wine and tomato sauce creates meat so tender you can cut it with a fork, and is commonly found across Italy in kitchens where the typical Nonna prepares her “Sunday sauce”. My own Mother-In-Law cooks different cuts of meat in her slow simmering tomato sauce to flavor it, and after we enjoy our pasta course, the meat is passed around for everyone to enjoy.
For this dish, I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs that I stuff with breadcrumbs, roll and tie, then slowly simmer in a sauce of chopped tomatoes and red wine. Once the chicken is cooked, I slice it and keep it warm topped with a little sauce. We enjoy the rest of the sauce on pasta, and pass the chicken as our second course. This sauce has a remarkably robust flavor that works well on any type of pasta, and I chose homemade pappardelle for my pasta in the photos.
Deborah Mele 2013
For The Chicken:
- 5 Tablespoons Olive Olive Oil, Divided
- 1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
- 1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Pancetta
- 3/4 Cup Homemade Fresh Breadcrumbs
- 3 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Parsley
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 1/4 Cup Grated Pecorino Cheese
- 8 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
For The Sauce:
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
- 5 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 2 Cups Robust Dry Red Wine (Chianti Works Well)
- 1 (26 Ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes
- 1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 4 Tablespoons Finely Chopped, Fresh Basil
- 1/2 Teaspoon Red Hot Pepper Flakes
- 1 Pound Dried Pasta of Choice
- Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Cheese
- To prepare the chicken, heat a frying pan with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until lightly smoking.
- Add the onions and pancetta and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often until the onions are soft and the pancetta is cooked.
- Add the breadcrumbs, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and stir to mix well.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.
- Take each chicken thigh, and fill with about 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumb stuffing.
- Roll the chicken up tightly, and tie securely with kitchen twine, and continue to stuff, roll, and tie the rest of the thighs.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and brown the thighs on all sides over medium heat until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
- Set the chicken thighs aside until needed.
- For the sauce, in a large stove-top casserole dish heat the oil until lightly smoking and then cook the onions until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the wine and increase heat to a slow boil and cook until it has reduced by half.
- Add the tomatoes, parsley, oregano, basil, and pepper flakes.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add the chicken to the sauce.
- Cover the pot, and cook for about an hour and a half.
- Remove the chicken from the sauce, cut off the twine and slice crosswise into pieces and keep warm.
- Use the sauce on your pasta of choice, and serve the chicken on the side.