Slow Cooker Chicken Ragù With Herbed Ricotta
This recipe has a comforting lasagna vibe, as the spicy chicken-and-tomato sauce mingles with the rich, herby ricotta. Make the sauce as hot as you like: Begin with 1 1/2 teaspoons red-pepper flakes for a fairly mild spice level, then add more at the end if you want more heat. You’ll notice there isn’t much liquid when the chicken and vegetables go into the slow cooker, but have faith: The juices released during cooking end up making a not-too-thick ragù that is perfect for saucing pasta. In fact, because some chicken has more moisture than others, you may end up with more liquid than you’d like. If that happens, turn off the heat so the sauce cools a bit and is not bubbling, then vigorously stir in two egg yolks before you add the pasta. This adds glossy thickening power, just like it does in carbonara.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 1 ½pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1small carrot, peeled and chopped
- ½yellow or red onion, finely minced (about 1 cup)
- 4garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
- 3tablespoons tomato paste
- 2tablespoons olive oil
- 1sprig fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1sprig fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano)
- 1 ½teaspoons red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
- 1teaspoon onion powder
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1(14-ounce) can whole tomatoes or crushed tomatoes
- 8ounces pappardelle, tagliatelle, fettuccine or other long, thick pasta
- 1cup whole-milk or part-skim ricotta
- Heaping 1/4 cup chopped soft fresh herbs, such as chives, oregano, parsley or basil, or a mix
- Juice of 1/4 lemon (1 to 2 teaspoons)
- 1teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1handful torn fresh basil leaves
Step 1In a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker, combine the chicken, carrot, onion, garlic, tomato paste, olive oil, thyme, oregano, red-pepper flakes and onion powder. Add 2 teaspoons kosher salt and a couple grinds of pepper.
Step 2Pour the tomatoes and their juices into the slow cooker, crushing the tomatoes with your hands, if using whole. Stir to combine.
Step 3Cover and cook on low until the chicken is very tender, about 6 hours. The ragù will hold well on warm for an additional 1 to 2 hours.
Step 4Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente. While the pasta cooks, in a small bowl, combine the ricotta with the chopped herbs, lemon juice and a pinch of salt; set aside.
Step 5Coarsely shred the cooked chicken with two forks. Remove and discard the herb sprigs and add the vinegar and the basil leaves. Taste the sauce, adding more red-pepper flakes, if you like. Turn off the slow cooker. Pour the drained pasta into the slow cooker and toss to combine.
Step 6Divide among bowls and top with the ricotta mixture.