Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hearty Chicken Ragu

There is a lovely Italian market in town, but it isn't quite as convenient as the other grocery stores in our area.  Fortunately, the past two weekends we've been close enough to the Italian market that it made sense to stop there for a few dinner ingredients. I had decided to make a rich, hearty ragu or bolognese-inspired sauce, so I wanted to make sure that I had good canned tomatoes.  They have the best canned tomatoes there, imported from Italy, and if you aren't using fresh tomatoes to make sauce, it is good to use the authentic canned ones.  N was somewhat skeptical that I wanted to make a "ragu," but he changed his tune once he actually smelled the sauce cooking.  It was truly delicious.

This chicken ragu is a perfect Sunday night dinner, since it takes longer to cook than most of us have on a weeknight.  Though time consuming, it is fairly easy to put together as most of the work is done by the food processor.  We also ended up with a lot of leftovers, so you will have plenty of sauce for weekday lunches or to freeze for another night.

Hearty Chicken Ragu
Cook time: 2 hours

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided in half
1 large chicken breast
1 large sweet onion, halved
5 cloves garlic, minced
5 carrots
5 stalks celery, including insides with leaves
1/2 cup italian parsley
3 tablespoons oregano
1 cup red wine
2-28 oz. cans whole, peeled tomatoes
Cremini mushrooms, about 1 cup chopped
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Slice half of the onion into thick slices and cut the garlic cloves in half.  Arrange chicken, garlic cloves, and onions on a baking sheet; sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast the chicken for 35 minutes.  When the chicken is cooked, let it cool and then shred with two forks.

While the chicken is cooking, heat the remaining olive oil in a large stockpot on medium-high and prepare the vegetables.  Using a food processor, chop onions, carrots, celery, and parsley, starting with the onions.  Once the onions are finely chopped, add them to the pot and saut√© them for 3 minutes until they begin to soften.  Add the the chopped vegetables (not including the mushrooms) and the oregano.  Cook for 5 minutes, then add the wine and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Using the food processor again, puree the tomatoes and then add them to the vegetable and wine mixture.  The garlic that was roasted with the chicken can also be chopped in the food processor and added to the pot.  Turn the heat to low and cover the pot until you are ready to add the chicken.  Once the chicken is cooled and shredded, stir it into the sauce along with the mushrooms.  Cover again and let the sauce simmer for an hour.

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