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Spring Pasta with Chicken Ragù, Fennel and Peas

Spring Pasta with Chicken Ragù, Fennel and Peas
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Pasta is one of my comfort foods.  There is something so satisfying about a big bowl of pasta, the flavors of the sauce melting into the noodles, grated or shaved Reggiano Parmigiano cheese topping the dish and there, at the bottom of the bowl, the final liquid-y bites ready to be sopped up with a hunk of great Peasant bread. The warmth a pasta dish can bring to a cold winter’s night is irresistible but I really don’t want to give it up once Spring arrives. And with this take on pasta sauce, you don’t have to.  It’s a lighter sauce, a ragù with a velvet-y texture that uses whole milk in lieu of the heavy cream used in winter’s sauces.   And with green English Peas, fennel fronds and parsley, it even looks spring-like. The chicken is tender to the bone and has a nice smoky flavor that comes from its being cooked with bacon. It’s a great dish and it won’t take all day to make.  Not quite.

Having said that, it’s a not a 30-minute dish.  The preparation is not at all long but the cooking is done in parts. First, you sauté the bacon, then brown the chicken.  That takes all of 15 minutes.  You can prep the rest of the dish while the bacon and chicken cook.  Then another 15 minutes is given over to the onions, fennel, thyme and the reduction of a half cup white wine.  Here’s where the time comes in the recipe.  You return the chicken and bacon to the pot where they simmer until the chicken is cooked through.  You can take that hour off only returning to cook the pasta at the same time you finish off the dish in all of another 15 minutes. The recipe, which I adapted from Bon Appetit, says that this is a make-ahead which you can gently re-heat before serving.  Here is the recipe:

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