If you like saffron, this one is for you! The flavour and fragrance of the saffron and wine is wonderful! When I make this dish I often serve it in the Italian manner, using some of the sauce to dress the paccheri/pacchero pasta as a primi?1st course, then serve the chicken drizzled with more sauce and a green veg. as my secondo/2nd course. Of course you can plate it up with the pasta with the chicken on top. If you can’t find the Paccheri/Pacchero you can substitute Rigatoni.
Makes 4 – 6 Servings
2 ½ – 2 ¾ lbs. whole chicken thighs, skin on
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. EVOO
2 cups chopped cooking onions
6 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
2 cups dry white wine, preferably Italian
1 tsp. saffron threads, crushed (don’t be tempted to use powdered)
2 cups (or more) low-salt/no-salt chicken stock** or purchased chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp. lemon juice (or more to taste)
1/3 – ½ cup chopped fresh basil
12 oz. – 1 lb. Paccheri/Pacchero past (a very large tube pasta with a big hole in the middle), or Rigatoni
½ cup + grated Parmigiano Reggiano
To Make the Chicken:
Add the saffron to the wine, set aside.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat & add the oil; add the chicken, skin side down and cook until golden on both sides; approximately 7 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate as it is browned; add the onions and garlic to the drippings in the skillet; sauté until the onions are slightly softened but not browned, 7 – 8 minutes. Add the wine-saffron mixture to the pan; bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the liquid is thickened and reduced by less than half; about 8 minutes. Add 2 cups chicken stock to the pan. Return the chicken to the skillet; bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low; cover, simmer gently until chicken is cooked through (adjusting the heat to prevent boiling and turning the chicken over after 20 minutes; continue cooking with the lid on, for another 10 – 15 minutes until the chicken juices run clear when pierced with a skewer.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat the oven to 180F. Place a large pasta bowl in the oven to warm, along with serving bowls/plates for the pasta.
When the chicken is cooked through, remove to a warm platter, keep warm while finishing the sauce. Spoon off fat from the juices in the skillet and discard. Add the cream to the pan and boil until the sauce is reduced to 2 ½ cups and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Set aside half the sauce in the warm oven to be used for serving the chicken.
Cook the Pasta:
While the sauce is reducing, add 1 – 2 Tbsp. salt to the boiling water; add the pasta to the pot and cook according to directions on the package, or until al dente. When pasta is cooked, drain; add to the pan containing the remaining saffron sauce, toss well to coat the pasta, 1 – 2 minutes. Place the pasta into the large, warm serving bowl, top with some of the basil; serve, passing Parmigiano Reggiano to sprinkle on the pasta.
To serve the chicken, nap the chicken with the saffron sauce and sprinkle with the remaining chopped basil.
Helpful link for Making Stock.