Chicken Bolognese with Penne

Southern Kitchen

Chicken Bolognese with Penne

Serves: 4 to 6

Hands On Time: 1 hour and 0 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 0 minutes


1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 celery rib, coarsely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound ground chicken

3 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped from stems and chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup tomato paste

3/4 cup milk

1 cup white wine

2 cups chicken broth

1 pound penne pasta

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving


Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat.

While the pot is heating, combine onion, celery, carrot and garlic in a food processor and process to a coarse paste.

Add olive oil to the hot pot, then add the pureed vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have given off their moisture and browned, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the thyme and red pepper flakes and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and cook until the color changes from red to more of a rust or copper color, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and cook, stirring, until the milk has toasted and nearly evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the white wine, bring to a rapid simmer, and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot until reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the chicken broth and simmer until mixture resembles a meaty gravy, 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until pasta is al dente, about 1 minute less than package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Add the pasta to the cooked ragu and stir to combine. If mixture seems too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water to gradually thin it out. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir to combine. Divide among serving bowls, top with additional cheese, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, and serve.

About the recipe

This meaty sauce has roots as a traditional Bolognese, with ground meat, chicken broth and white wine making up more of the sauce’s structure than tomato. Here, we’ve lightened up the traditional beef and pork mixture with ground chicken.

Finely chopping the vegetables in a food processor before cooking gives them more surface area and allows for more browning and flavor development. The milk is a key addition, as the milk protects the meat from absorbing too much of the wine’s acidity; just make sure to cook the milk until nearly evaporated.