This is a lighter version of the pappardelle I sometimes make with cream. So good, but not what I need right now, I pulled this dish together rather quickly (because there was a Duck game starting soon!) using home-made chicken broth, white wine, lots of garlic & thyme and a brief citrus saffron marinade of the chicken breast. Braising the fennel only took a few minutes. Once ingredients were cooked, I tossed the pasta all together with peas, crisp bacon, fennel fronds and delicious pieces of pan seared saffron citrus chicken. It turned out amazing.
- 4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts. Cut into 2″ pieces
- 4 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 T fresh lemon juice
- 4 T fresh organic garlic, minced (plus more for braising fennel)
- 1 tsp saffron (Penzy’s is great)
- 1 T organic orange zest
- 2 T organic thyme, finely chopped (or Penzy’s dried thyme)
- 1 tsp Kosher salt (plus more for fennel and pasta)
- 8 oz peppered bacon, thinly sliced (no maple flavored bacon)
- 2 large fennel bulbs
- 2 T unsalted butter
- 1/2 C white wine (we used sauvignon blanc)
- 1/2 C organic chicken broth
- 2 T fresh organic garlic, minced
- 1-1/2 C fresh peas (or frozen)
- 12 oz pappardelle pasta
- 1/2 C shaved parmesan (or asiago)
- Cracked black pepper
In a large bowl, add cut chicken pieces, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, saffron, orange zest, thyme and salt. Toss to coat each pieces of chicken well. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to four hours. In a medium saute pan on medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove cooked bacon. Drain on paper towel and set aside until assembly of pasta. Reserve bacon drippings. Cut the tops off the fennel bulbs. Chop off the fronds. Save 6-8 larger fronds for garnishing and chop 2 tablespoons of the remaining fronds. Set fronds aside until assembly. Slice the fennel bulbs in half, lengthwise. Cutting through the core. Slice each half lengthwise into quarters. You should get 8 pieces. You want the core intact so the pieces don’t fall apart when braising. In a large skillet on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon bacon drippings and butter. Lay fennel pieces flat side down and cook for 5 minutes. Watching carefully so not to burn. Once caramelized, flip and cook other side for approximately 4 more minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove cooked fennel. Add wine, broth and additional 2 tablespoons of garlic. Cook for 4-5 minutes and add in chicken pieces. Cook for 7-8 more minutes until chicken pieces are cooked through, but tender. While chicken is cooking, add water to a medium size stock pot on high heat. Salt the water. Once boiling, add pappardelle. Cook for 6-7 minutes. When cooked, drain in colander and place pasta in a large bowl. Add peas and fennel to the pan with chicken and wine sauce and warm for 1 minute. Pour chicken, fennel and pea mixture over the pasta – with the liquid from the wine sauce. Sprinkle with bacon, chopped fennel fronds and toss pasta so full coated. Drizzle with a little olive oil and garnish with shaved parmesan and fennel fronds. Serve with a light green salad, garlic bread and a chilled glass of white wine.
- For a vegetarian version of this recipe, use clear vegetable stock instead of chicken broth and omit bacon. Consider adding thick sliced sautéed crimini mushrooms or cauliflower in place of chicken — or both!
- For a little heat, finish pasta toss with a half tsp (or more) chili flakes.
- We’ve made a similar dish with the addition of baby spinach and/or sautéed kale. The kale leaves (without stem and ribs) can be sautéed in the wine sauce with the chicken. The baby spinach can be added with the peas and fennel for the finishing minute to warm before tossing with pasta.