Test Kitchen Favorite: Chicken Rigatoni with Creamy Marinara

Discovered in upstate New York where Chef Elana spent her college days, you’ll love this chicken rigatoni for its rich flavors and incredible ease.

Sfoglini are tossed in a creamy marinara sauce we love. Garnished with fragrant basil leaves and salty pecorino cheese, this simple dinner miraculously manages to deliver big on taste and comfort in no time at all.

Starchy pasta cooking water will give your sauce a perfect consistency and help it to cling to the noodles. Keep adding it until the sauce is silky—you may need more than you think.

2 cloves garlic
3 ounces baby lettuce ⅛ ounce fresh basil
2 boneless skinless chicken
8 ounces rigatoni
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cups tomato purée
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup grated pecorino cheese
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
8″ medium pot
12″ large pan

1. Prepare Ingredients
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Thinly slice garlic. Rinse baby lettuce. Rinse basil and roughly tear leaves, discarding stems. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towel.

2. Sear Chicken
Season chicken all over with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper as desired. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken and sear until cooked through and no longer pink, about 6 minutes per side. Remove from pan and using 2 forks or tongs, shred into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

3. Cook Rigatoni
While chicken sears, add salt generously to pot of boiling water. Stir in rigatoni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking water, then drain and set aside.

4. Warm Marinara Sauce
While rigatoni cooks, wipe pan from chicken clean and add 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add as much crushed red pepper as desired and garlic. Sauté, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Stir in tomato purée. Season with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, 6–8 minutes.

5. Season Rigatoni
Add heavy cream, rigatoni, and shredded chicken to pan with marinara sauce over medium heat and cook, stirring, until warmed through, 1-2 minutes. Add reserved pasta cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sauce is thick and clings to noodles (see Recipe Tip). Remove pan from heat. Stir in pecorino and basil.

6. Plate Chicken Rigatoni
In a large bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil until fully combined. Season with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper as desired. Add baby lettuce and toss to coat. Serve salad alongside chicken rigatoni and enjoy.


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