The other night I roasted two chickens for my birthday dinner with the idea to have lots of chicken for leftovers. I normally stick extra chicken in a quesadilla or taco – a dinner I happily return to again and again. Rarely do I put chicken and pasta together. Most of the time, it reminds me of “family style” restaurants who’s food is always too…. much….too much cream, too much sodium, too much everything but taste. It’s a lot of bland calories.
However, I was watching some “old” Nigella on TV, an episode where she tore apart a roast chicken with her bare fingers – and somehow made that look alluring and delicious. When I tear apart a chicken, which I do often, it’s a bit more of a cavewoman going at a carcass. But when Nigella does anything…. well you know. She’s Nigella! And she was talking about a Claudia Roden recipe she swears by called Tagliatelle Frisinal. The ingredients are minimal; the dish is simple. You do, however, need to roast your own chicken. This is crucial because all those delicious succulent juices comprise the sauce. Truly, the pasta dish is out of this world.
Nigella says this recipe, which she calls Tagliatelle With Chicken From The Venetian Ghetto, is a crucial part of her life and I agree with its import. It should be a part of everyone’s repertoire. As long as you’re not vegetarian.
Venetian Ghetto Tagliatelle With Chicken adapted from Nigella’s How To Eat
Nigella roasts her chicken slightly differently than me, 350 F for 1-1.5 hours. I find it’s better to use 425 for 1.25 hours. It’s never overdone nor undercooked and has worked every time with store bought birds. She also only uses olive oil, and that would be the most traditional because adding butter, as I often do, renders the dish non-kosher. Dairy yields a lovely burnished skin, which is why I always include it. I also like to add smoked paprika because I can’t help myself, but I don’t list it in the recipe here. I’ll let you do as you will. Your results will be delicious either way.
When you tear apart your chicken, you can include the skin or not. Because I didn’t eat this the day I roasted the chicken, I munched on the crackly chicken skin as it came out of the oven and didn’t add it to the dish. However, if I was making the chicken and eating it the same I day, I definitely would have. Skin looses it’s crispness as it sits and there’s no place in my life for flaccid skin. I believe the original authors would disagree vehemently, so do as you will.
If using this for another day’s meal, drain the juices into a small container and refrigerate by itself with the raisins and nuts stored separately. One of the things I liked about using the sauce the next day was the separate layer of fat – schmaltz – that lifts itself from the juices which turn into jelly (from the gelatin) in the fridge. I saved most of the schmaltz for another recipe, perhaps matzo balls or frying up some potatoes, but the dish does require some of the delicious fat. Don’t be squeamish or hold back. Be sure to add some of the fat and all the jellied juices to the pasta.
1 x 3.5-4 pound chicken
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary (one long garden sprig or 2-3 shorter ones)
1/2 cup golden raisins, soaked in water for 30 minutes
2/3 cup pinenuts, toasted
1 pound tagliatelle
2-3 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Mix two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil together with the melted butter. Generously salt your chicken, I’d say about 1 tablespoon of sea salt for both the inside and outside of the bird. It’s hard to over salt a chicken. [The only time I have was when it was a kosher chicken, I forgot salt is used to dry out and get the blood out of the bird.] Then slather the chicken with the butter and olive oil mixture. You can decide to forgo the butter if you like, Nigella and Claudia both do. I just like a burnished skin which dairy seems to consistently provide.
Roast chicken for 1 hour and 15 minutes with the legs facing the back of the oven (because its hotter at the back allowing the darker meat to cook slightly hotter than the white meat) or until juices run clear from the thigh joints. Let the chicken stand until it’s cool enough for you to tear apart with your fingers. Try not to eat too much as you go.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a generous pinch of sea salt- about 4 fingers or a tablespoon – to the boiling water.
To make the sauce, drain the chicken juices into a saucepan, add the finely chopped rosemary, the drained soaked raisins, and toasted pinenuts.
Simmer the sauce once you are ready to boil your pasta. Once it’s cooked per package instructions and drained, toss with the sauce and chicken pieces in a large warmed bowl. Add more extra virgin olive oil if you wish, I didn’t need it, but if you’re reheating leftover you may want a drizzle the next day. Sprinkle over chopped parsley. No need for parmesan here, it would sully the rich flavors of the chicken.