This is a recipe I initially served about 12 years ago to our "Big Eight" monthly group, four empty-nest couples, prior to our moving to Collington. Three of us women had known one another since Jr. High School. We had been in one another's weddings and are god-parents to some of the 11 children involved. I like anything Italian and only one of the other wives had tried anything like this dish. It was a hit and requested several times. It became a "go-to" dish with a salad, rustic bread and a good wine. - Eloise Branche, Collington Resident
- 6 large chicken thighs (3 pounds) bone and skin removed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thickly sliced
- 1 cup sliced yellow onion
- 3 tablespoons slivered garlic
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
- 2 cups hearty red wine
- 2 cups diced, seeded ripe tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon each chopped fresh thyme and sage
- 4 cups chicken stock
- Balsamic vinegar (optional)
- 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley (preferably flat leaf)
- 1/2 pound orecchiette or other shaped dry pasta
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup drained sun-dried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped
- Garnish: Fresh basil sprigs and freshly shaved Asiago or Parmesan cheese
Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons oil and quickly brown chicken over high heat. Remove and set aside. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and sauté until very lightly browned.
Return chicken to pan and add wine, tomatoes, thyme, sage, and the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove chicken and cut meat into bite sized slices and set aside. Strain braising liquid reserving vegetables and return liquid to pot. Bring to a boil and cook over high heat for 8 to 10 minutes to reduce and thicken lightly. This also concentrates the flavors. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and drops of balsamic vinegar if using. Add reserved meat and vegetables and heat through. Stir in parsley and keep warm.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt to taste and pasta. Cook pasta until just tender, drain, and toss with chopped basil and sun-dried tomatoes. Place pasta in center of warm, large flat pasta bowls and ladle braised chicken sauce around. Garnish with basil springs and shaved cheese and serve immediately.
Yield: 6 Servings
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