chicken & fennel ragù

A lighter, yet still hearty, version of ragù that won’t leave you slaving over the stove all day long. Chicken thighs are an awesome alternative to your typical pork shoulder or chuck roast because they don’t dry out and shred apart nicely. Better yet? They are easier to find at the grocery store, they are cheaper and they allow for a shorter braise time. The addition of peas, fennel and fresh herbs provide a bright and fresh flavor to the savory dish making this the perfect springtime meal!

chicken & fennel ragù

yields: 6 servings               prep time: 10 minutes              cook time: 1 hour & 30 minutes


1 Tbsp. olive oil

6 chicken thighs, boneless & skinless

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

2 small yellow onions, diced

1 fennel bulb, chopped

6 sprigs fresh thyme [or 2 tsp. dried]

1 tsp. minced garlic

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup whole milk

1 cup peas [thaw if frozen]

12 oz. pasta – pappardelle or egg noodles work great

2 Tbsp. butter

½ cup grated parmesan

2 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley

2 Tbsp. freshly chopped dill


  • Pat the chicken thighs dry and generously season with salt and pepper.

  • Heat 1 T olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

  • Cook the chicken until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.

  • Transfer the chicken to a plate or cutting board and reduce the heat to medium.

  • Add the onion and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 6-8 minutes.

  • Add the thyme and garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  • Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan and scrap up all the browned bits.

  • Continue cooking at a simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

  • Return the chicken to the pot and pour in enough water to just cover the chicken.

  • Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to medium-low and place the lid on slightly askew.

  • Cook until chicken is tender, about 45-60 minutes.

  • Transfer the chicken to a clean plate or cutting board and finely shred the meat.

  • Add the milk to the pot and increase the heat to medium-high.

  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced by half and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

  • Stir in the peas and the shredded chicken and cook until the peas are tender, about 2 minutes.

  • Season the ragù with plenty of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

  • Reduce the heat to low to keep the ragù warm while you cook the pasta according to the package’s directions. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water.

  • Add the drained, cooked pasta to the ragù along with the butter, parmesan and reserved pasta water.

  • Increase heat to medium [sauce should be bubbling a little] and continue cooking, continuously stirring, until butter and cheese are melted and incorporated into the ragù.

  • Add the freshly chopped parsley and dill and toss to ensure the pasta is fully coated in sauce.

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