Maccheroni with Braised Chicken and Tomato

Maccheroni al Sugo di Pollo

I have never been particularly fond of pasta with chicken because I have always found it to be too bland in flavor and texture to work as a sauce for pasta. One day I was talking to my mother on the phone and told her of my dilemma. She suggested I do a basic braised chicken with tomatoes using just dark meat pieces, then remove the meat from the bone and continue cooking it in its juices until it became a sauce. I tried it, and with the addition of a little crushed red pepper came up with a very successful result.

Total Time from Start to Finish: 2 hours


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 whole garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 2 fresh rosemary branches (or 1 tsp. dried rosemary, finely chopped)
  • 2 pounds chicken legs, thighs and wings
  • Salt
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice, roughly chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon. crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound penne
  • 6 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated


  1. Put 1 tablespoon of the butter, the vegetable oil, the garlic and the rosemary branches (or dried rosemary) in a braising pan large enough to accommodate all the chicken without too much overlap. Place the pan over medium high heat and cook until the garlic cloves have browned nicely.
  2. Remove the garlic and put the chicken pieces in the pan skin side down. Brown the chicken on all sides. This will be easier if you do not crowd the pan and do the chicken in two batches if necessary. After all the chicken has browned, season it with salt.
  3. Remove the rosemary (if using fresh), raise the heat to high, and add the white wine. Let it bubble for about a minute to let the alcohol evaporate then return all the chicken to the pan. Add the tomatoes, the crushed red pepper and season with salt. When the tomatoes start bubbling, turn down the heat to low and cover the pan leaving a small gap open. Cook, turning the chicken occasionally, until the meat is very tender and almost falls off the bone, about 45 minutes, adding some water if more liquid is needed. Cooking it a little too long won’t hurt and do not worry if there seems to be a lot of liquid left over when it’s done.
  4. Remove the chicken pieces and let them cool. Skim all the excess fat from the sauce. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove all the meat from the bone in small pieces discarding all the fat and skin. Put the chicken meat back in the sauce. The sauce can be prepared up to this point in advance and refrigerated.
  5. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, cover, and place over high heat. When the water boils add 2 tablespoons salt and the maccheroni, and stir well. Cook until al dente.
  6. Reheat the sauce over medium low heat. If the sauce was prepared ahead of time the chicken may have absorbed all the liquid and it may be too dry. You can add a little chicken broth or water to moisten it. If, however, there is too much liquid simply raise the heat and let it reduce down.
  7. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce, the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the parmesan cheese. Serve at once.

Also good with: