Pasta with Chicken and Potato Tomato Sauce

When Robin was growing up, “macaroni” was served several times a week—and always on Sunday. For variety, Nanny would serve different meats and vegetables cooked in the sauce. “Sunday gravy” had meatballs, sausages, and pieces of beef and pork. On weekdays, however, a simpler gravy, just one of the meats or some chicken was added. Sometimes, a couple of small whole potatoes were added as well.

Robin loved potatoes cooked in tomato sauce, whereas her sister, Tara, would complain and pick at the small pieces of the potato that would break off into the tomato sauce. Ah, food always brings back such strong memories and feelings!

Robin varies one of Nanny’s weekday recipes by adding the potatoes first and, when almost tender, adding browned boneless, skinless chicken breasts. These simmer gently for just about 15 minutes until cooked through. Nanny always added the potatoes and chicken together and cooked the sauce for about an hour, but we try to streamline it here. Unfortunately, this remains a work in progress (see the final paragraph!).

Servings and Times

Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Tools and Appliances

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We start by putting a large pot of water on the stove and heating it covered over medium-high heat. This is for the pasta.

In a medium pot, we combine the tomato sauce and potatoes. The potatoes are covered in the sauce, and we partially cover the pot. The sauce is brought to a boil and then we let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, we prepare the chicken. With kitchen scissors, we trim the chicken of fat and unsightly areas.

In our Dutch oven, we heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, we sauté the chicken for a few minutes on each side. We are just looking for the chicken to be golden on the outside.

The chicken (still raw on the inside) is removed to a plate. The wine is added to the Dutch oven and we scrape up the browned bits from the inside of the Dutch oven with a wooden spoon. The chicken is then added back to the reduced wine mixture, along with the tomato sauce and potatoes. We season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

The chicken and potatoes are about ¾ covered with the tomato sauce. We will turn them occasionally as they simmer gently for 15 minutes.

When the chicken and potatoes are simmering together, and the water for the pasta is boiling, we add the dried pasta to the water. We season with salt, stir, and cook according to the package directions.

The pasta is drained in a colander when “al dente” and returned to the pot. Some sauce is stirred in to lightly coat the pasta.

The pasta is served with Locatelli, additional sauce, and the chicken and potatoes. The chicken is nicely cooked after the 15 minutes at a gentle simmer. The potatoes, though, are not as tender as we would like (maybe Nanny was right to cook them an hour instead of 35 minutes!). We put the potatoes in a microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for a few minutes until cooked through.

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