The main content

Spring Chicken Meat Sauce and Papardelle


  • 3 small bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, split

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 medium onions, divided

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 2 small to medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1 small rib celery, finely chopped

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • Salt and pepper

  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped

  • A few sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 cup white wine or chicken stock or vegetable stock

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • A little freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

  • 1 pound papardelle or fettuccini pasta

  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (for a nutty taste) or grated Pecorino Romano cheese (if you prefer a sharp, tangy taste) for tossing with pasta and for passing at table

  • 1 cup fresh basil (about 20 leaves), loosely packed


Rinse and dry the chicken breasts. Place the chicken in a medium Dutch oven or other pot with a tight fitting lid. Add a few bay leaves to the pot. Peel and quarter one of the onions, leaving the root end intact. Arrange in the pot with the chicken and bay leaves, then add water to the pot to come up to the top of chicken without covering it. Bring to a boil, then drop the heat to simmer. Cover the pot and poach the chicken for about 15-20 minutes. Cool the meat, straining and reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Remove the skin and bones and shred the meat into small pieces with forks or your hands.

Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO in a Dutch oven, a couple of turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, the remaining onion, finely chopped, and the garlic. Season with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme and cook for 8 minutes to soften. Add the tomato paste and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the wine, then stir in the reserved cooking liquids. Add the chicken to the sauce and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and stir in the milk, then season with a little nutmeg. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes over low heat.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Add the papardelle or fettuccini and cook to al dente. Reserve a ladle of the starchy cooking liquid just before draining pasta. Toss the drained pasta with the cooking liquid, half of the sauce and a handful of the cheese.

Serve the pasta in shallow bowls topped with the remaining sauce, some torn basil and a little more cheese for topping.

This is one of many "Yum-o!" recipes – it's good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael's nonprofit organization, go to Cooking with alcohol enhances the flavors of certain dishes. Some of the alcohol burns off in the process of cooking. If you are concerned about using alcohol when you cook, you may use the appropriate substitute listed in the ingredients.