Cream sauces are vastly underrated in weeknight cooking. This simple, luxe pasta with chicken is my argument for bringing them back! Aside from cooking the pasta, the whole dish comes together in a skillet in less than 30 minutes and is so easy to execute. —EmilyC
4 to 6
1 to 1 1/2 pounds
boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste
flat-fillet anchovies (from a 2-ounce olive-oil packed tin), minced and smashed to a paste with the back of a knife (about 2 teaspoons worth)
finely chopped fresh thyme
large shallot, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
halved or slivered sun-dried tomatoes, either dry or packed in olive oil (and well-drained)
1 or 2
pinches of red pepper flakes, or to taste
lemon (finely grated zest + juice)
pappardelle (linguine or fettuccine can be substituted)
For serving: chopped Italian parsley and grated Parmesan
Blot chicken thighs dry with a paper towel. Season evenly on both sides with salt and pepper.
In a 12-inch skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. When it starts to sizzle, add anchovies and thyme, smashing and schmearing the anchovy with a wooden spoon until it melts into the butter.
Add the chicken thighs to the skillet and sauté in the anchovy butter over medium heat until browned on the first side, about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip; continue cooking until browned and meat is cooked through, about 4 minutes longer. You’ll notice the butter will turn a deep chestnut color as the chicken browns (this is good!); turn down the heat if the fond on the bottom of the skillet starts to burn. Transfer the thighs to a plate and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Start cooking the pappardelle at the same time you start the cream sauce (step 6).
Add the shallots to the skillet; season with a pinch of salt and immediately scrape up on the fond with a wooden spoon. (If the fond is being stubborn, add a splash or two of chicken stock to dislodge it, or white wine or rosé if you have a bottle open!). Sauté the shallot for 4 to 5 minutes, or until browned and tender. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and red pepper flakes and sauté for another minute or two until they start to soften.
Add the chicken stock (scraping up any last bits of fond), then the cream. Simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cream sauce has thickened slightly. Return chicken thighs to the skillet, along with any juices that accumulated on the plate. Zest the lemon directly over the skillet. Taste the sauce, then adjust acidity with lemon juice (adding enough to really brighten up the sauce) and seasoning.
When pappardelle is done, drain it and immediately toss with 1 tablespoon butter and a few tablespoons of the cream sauce back in the pasta pot.
To serve, toss the pappardelle in the skillet, or transfer the pappardelle to a large serving dish, arrange the chicken over the noodles, and pour the cream sauce on top. (Note: I usually leave the chicken thighs whole, but feel free to cut them into bite-sized pieces before serving.) Scatter parsley and grated Parmesan over the entire dish. Serve right away.