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Cavatelli Pasta with Chicken Ragu

No recipe image available.This recipe calls for cavatelli pasta, a short, thick, scalloped-edge shell-shaped pasta. It's used in this dish because it holds the sauce so well. Conchiglioni is another shell-shaped pasta that would also work well.

Recipe Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds, cut into 16 equal-size pieces
3 red onions, peeled and chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
2 pounds very ripe fresh tomatoes, passed thorough a food mill
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 large pinches of saffron
21 fresh basil leaves, julienned
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cavatelli
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Cooking Directions:

  1. Place the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and sauté the pieces of chicken until golden brown on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon.
  2. Add the onions to the pot, along with the red pepper flakes, and cook them for 10 minutes or until translucent. Add the tomato and the tomato paste mixing well. Add the saffron and allow to simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Return the chicken to the pot, along with the basil, and lower the heat, allowing the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. While the chicken is simmering, cook the pasta, drain it, mix well with the sauce, and serve with the grated Pecorino on the side.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.