Tuesday dinner: Chicken ragu over orecchiette

This is not a sauce I made using a terrible jarred tomato sauce. Think ragu, but not as a proper noun. I’ll let The Gourmet Wino explain:

Ragout [ra-GOO] – A derivative of the French verb ragoûter , meaning “to stimulate the appetite,” ragoût is a thick, rich, well-seasoned stew of meat, poultry or fish that can be made with or without vegetables.

Ragu [ra-GOO, rah-GOO] – A staple of northern Italy’s Bologna, ragu is a meat sauce that is typically served with pasta. Though different than the French RAGOUT, both are derived from the verb ragoûter , which means “to stimulate the appetite.” Ragu usually contains ground beef, tomatoes, onions, celery, carrots, white wine and seasonings.

I would rather use the French variety so I can achieve distance from the jarred mess that is Ragu, but fine, I made a ragu.

Because we’re dealing with something stewlike that requires meat to be cooked down, I would recommend making this in advance and reheating or saving it for a weekend dinner. It’s time consuming, but not difficult to prepare. It goes nicely with a crusty Italian bread (Pasta’s stretch Italian hit the spot).

WHAT WORKED: Canned tomatoes. We’re outside of the local growing season and the tomatoes at Wegmans looked passable, but not great. I went for the big can of Redpack.

WHAT DIDN’T: I wasn’t using celery or carrots for anything else this week, so buying bunches of both seemed silly. Plus, the produce section at my Wegmans was pretty bare at 8 a.m. when I went shopping on Sunday. So, I opted for the precut Mirepoix in the bagged veggies area. Scoff if you will, but it saved me time and wasted food.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: She didn’t break from her work-related story much tonight, though I will say that the three bowls she ate was a good sign.

WILL IT MAKE A RETURN: Very much so. It may rear its head in the future as a dinner for the in-laws or friends.

Chicken ragu over orecchiette
From The Italian Dish

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 1/3 cup finely diced carrot
  • 1/3 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/3 cup finely diced onion
  • large pinch of kosher or sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. kosher or sea salt (or to taste)
  • ground fresh black pepper
  • 12 ounces dried orecchiette pasta (or any kind you like)
  • grated parmesan cheese

In a heavy bottom pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the chicken thighs. Let them brown for a few minutes and turn when nicely golden. Let brown on the other side. Remove and set aside. Add the carrot, celery and onion and the large pinch of salt. Stir together and let cook for about 5 minutes. Do not brown, lower heat a little if you have to. Add the garlic and saute for one minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook for another two minutes. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon. Add the bay leaves, thyme and oregano and stir.

Return the thighs to the pot, cover, and let simmer on low for about an hour.

Remove the thighs from the pot and place on a cutting board. With two forks, shred the meat off the bones and return the meat to the pot. Add the salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, for about another 15 minutes. Taste the seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Continue to cook, uncovered, until you like the thickness of the sauce.

(Jared’s note: I refrigerated the sauce on Sunday and reheated it over a medium flame on Tuesday. It kept well.)

Broth + wine = a good time

Boil the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water until al dente. Remove the pasta with a strainer and place right into the sauce. Stir together and serve right away with grated cheese.

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