Meaty Monday: Chicken Pasta e Fagiole with Smoked Paprika

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We have done pasta e fagioli here before. The CHOW.com recipe that I adapted for that evening was good, though not my favorite. This offering by Yvonne Ruperti at Serious Eats is in the same category. I really liked it, but it’s not quite the versions made by my mother and father.

Each made them different. My mother’s was soupier. She would simmer some of the beans in tomatoes all day long, letting them break down and thicken the broth. At the end, she would add the beans and ditalini. My father’s is heartier. He would carve off a chunk of well-aged prosciutto and render it to cook his aromatics, then add the pasta and beans at the very end. (Side Note: Many, many years ago, I ordered pasta e fagioli at The Olive Garden. It had carrots in it. I sent it back and asked for more salad. Such a disaster. Such…heresy. Such garbage.)

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Ruperti’s version calls for ground chicken, a point that I overlooked when preparing my grocery list. I bought chicken thighs instead, which was not a big deal as I trimmed and chopped it small as to not get in the way of everything else.

WHAT WORKED: Everything. This was pretty solid. The chicken offered another source of protein and a richer flavor.

WHAT DIDN’T: Bay leaves. A few weeks ago on Facebook, I posted a photo of The Kid’s new play area: my spice rack. The result is that I’m missing things, including my jar of bay leaves. So, we went without.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “It’s good, but I don’t like it this soupy.” She’s a tough woman to please, ladies and gentlemen.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Facets will. I liked the balance of tomatoes and beans here, and the smoked paprika gave it a really interesting flavor.

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Chicken Pasta e Fagiole with Smoked Paprika
By Yvonne Ruperti at Serious Eats

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 3 oz. pancetta, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 12 oz. ground chicken thigh meat
  • 2 (14-15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 (14-15 oz.) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (see note above)
  • 3 cups low-sodium homemade or store-bought chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 oz. (about 1 1/2 cups) small pasta
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Parmigiano-reggiano for serving.

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In large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil and pancetta over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until pancetta is cooked and crispy, about 5 minutes.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, onions, and bay leaf to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, kidney beans, broth, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and chili flakes.

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Increase heat to medium high and bring to high simmer. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir in parsley, and serve with grated parmesan.

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