This rustic Italian dish is done much the way you would cook french Coq au vin, but the sausage and Chianti wine give it a uniquely Italian flavor. The idea of stuffing the chicken thighs was something I saw on Epicurious a few years ago, but the way I create the sauce is all my own. Braising is a great way to create flavorful and tender dishes. It’s important that when you are creating a braising liquid, you use high-quality ingredients. Your sauce is only as good as what you put into it. In this case, make sure you use a wine that you would be willing to drink, so stay far away from anything labeled cooking wine! You’ll also want to make sure that you use high-quality meat. We paid a visit to our favorite Denver butcher (and friend) Drew Hicks, who recommended using double smoked, thickly sliced bacon, which provided a wonderful depth for the sauce. —Bethany Cornish Smith
spicy Italian sausage, casing removed(about 2 links)
freshly grated Grana Padano Cheese
fresh parsley, chopped
freshly cracked pepper
boneless-skinless chicken thighs
chopped bacon (thick and center cut works best)
medium onion, finely diced
garlic cloves, minced
bottle of Chianti wine or other wine made with Sangiovese grape
low sodium chicken stock
crushed red pepper flakes
dried egg noodles
cups diced canned or fresh tomatoes (I use Pomì brand)
The first thing you will need to do is prepare the stuffing for the chicken thighs. Mix together the sausage, red pepper flakes, egg, cheese, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, shallot, salt and pepper in medium sized bowl.
Place a chicken thigh on your work surface and fill in the area where its bone was removed with 2 tablespoons of stuffing. Next, wrap the chicken thigh around the stuffing and secure it with a toothpick or kitchen twine. Repeat with the remaining chicken thighs and stuffing. Sprinkle the outside of the thigh preparations generously with salt and pepper.
Next, heat olive oil in a heavy large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and sauté until light brown and its fat is rendered. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel to soak up its excess fat.
Next, add the stuffed chicken to the pot with the bacon drippings and brown them (should take about 10 minutes). Once you’ve browned all the chicken, transfer it to a plate so you can start creating the basis for your braising sauce.
Add the onion and garlic to the pot and sauté until they are tender. Next, return the bacon to the pot. Add the wine and raise the temperature to high. Boil the mixture until it has reduced to about 2 cups.
Next, add in the broth, tomatoes, bay leaf, dried basil, and chicken thighs. Once the pot has come back to a boil, cover it with a lid, and reduce the heat to a simmer. The longer this dish cooks, the better the flavor will be! You want to be sure the sauce has reduced and concentrated, so if there is still too much liquid in the pot, go ahead remove the lid.
Finally, cook the egg noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until just about tender. Transfer the noodles to a large platter and top them with the chicken, sauce, fresh basil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley.