Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chicken Thigh Pasta Sauce With Herbs and Tomatoes

In Italy, pasta sauce made with young roosters is tastier than one made with hens. To capture the flavor with what is available in my meat market, I used chicken thighs, the tastiest part of the chicken.
Bon Appetit!
• 4 chicken thighs, about 1 1/2 pounds

• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

• 3 tablespoons butter

• 1/3 cup onion, chopped fine

• 1/3 cup carrot, chopped fine

• 1/2 cup celery, chopped fine

• Fine sea salt

• Freshly ground black pepper

• 7 large or 10 small fresh mint leaves, chopped

• 1 cup dry white wine

• 2 cups tomatoes cut up with their juice, using either ripe, firm, fresh plum tomatoes, peeled raw, split and seeds scooped out OR canned imported San Marzano Italian tomatoes

• A mixture of 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves and 3 to 4 strips of lemon peel, just the yellow skin with none of the white pith beneath, chopped together fine

Remove the skin and all the fat from the chicken thighs, wash them in cold running water, and cut all the flesh away from the bone. Grind the meat fine in a food processor or a meat grinder. If you don’t have these tools, it’s OK to chop.

Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in a medium skillet, turn on the heat to medium high, and cook the onion, stirring from time to time, until it is colored a light gold.

Add the chopped carrot and celery and cook for a minute or so, turning the vegetables over from time to time to coat them well.

Add the chicken, increase the heat, and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, turning the meat over frequently.

Add salt, pepper, the mint leaves and the white wine, turning over the contents of the skillet two or three times.

When the wine has bubbled away, add the tomatoes, turn over the contents of the skillet, and lower the heat. Let the tomatoes cook at a gentle but steady simmer in the uncovered pan for 30 to 45 minutes, until, when you skim the surface of the sauce with the side of a wooden spoon, the fat following the spoon's trail runs clear.

Add the mixture of chopped rosemary, sage and lemon peel, turn it over with the contents of the skillet to distribute it thoroughly, and cook at a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.