750g of Fusilli or Tagliatelle Pasta
500g of Chicken Breasts
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
[For the Sauce]
2 Large Red Onions
2 Red Bell Peppers
5 Garlic Cloves
1/3 cup red wine
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp butter
150g parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped oregano
5 - 6 Basil Leaves
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
2 tbsp Pine Nuts
Time to prepare: 15 mins | To cook: 1 1/2 hours
Heat a grill to about 200c
Slice (and de-seed) the red bell peppers into large strips you can lay out on an oven tray. Place all the garlic cloves, skins on, beside them and into the oven on the top shelf.
You want the peppers to begin to char and the garlic should look toasted at this point too. Usually this will take about 5 - 10 minutes but make sure you check on it as it's easy for it to go too far.
[Sauce Pot I]
While they're grilling, place a large pot on a medium heat and add 1/2 tbsp of butter and about 3 - 4 tbsp of olive oil when it's hot enough. The butter shouldn't fry but should be warm enough that is sizzles slowly.
Slice the onions into thin crescents and add to the oil to caramelise. Lower the heat if they're sizzling too loudly. You want to slow caramelise them for about 10 minutes until they begin to brown and become translucent, but not dry or crisp.
While the onions are softening, take a small pan and put it on a medium heat to toast both the fennel seeds and pine nuts.
If you do the pine nuts first, they add a tiny bit of natural oil for the seeds after. Keep turning them as they burn easily. You want a light brown colour on the sides, which you can get after only 1 - 2 minutes. Empty into a container.
Do the same with the fennel seeds for about the same amount of time. These will go a deeper brown than the pine nuts without burning. Keep both separate.
Pulverise both (separately) in a pestle and mortar. They're both very easy to do so no need for a grinder. The fennel seeds will turn into a mixture of powder and fibers. The pine nuts will begin to turn into a powdery paste but you can leave it rough.
[Sauce Pot II]
Grilled veg should be ready by now if you haven't already removed them. Finely slice the pepper and garlic (after removing it from its skin) and add to the onions. Continue frying on a low - medium heat for a further 5 minutes.
Add both cans of chopped tomatoes, together with 1 tsp of sugar to remove some their bitterness, and raise to a medium heat so that it simmers gently.
Finely grate the carrot into the pot. Ideally use a grater you would use for parmesan or garlic paste but you can get away with thicker strips.
Slice the chicken breasts into small, evenly sized sections.
In a small bowl, add 2 tbsp of olive, the tarragon and 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of fresh ground pepper and stir.
Using a pastry brush or similar, coat the each chicken piece lightly then add to a medium heat frying pan, turning after about 6 minutes to cook thoroughly on both sides. Ideally use a griddle pan.
[Sauce Pot III]
Add the red wine and pine nuts to the sauce along with 1 tbsp oregano and the basil leaves, torn into small pieces.
Grate the majority of the parmesan into the sauce, leaving a small amount for the end and add the chicken, stirring thoroughly.
Turn up the sauce if it's not simmering and ensure you stir it occasionally as it will stick otherwise. We want it to reduce very slightly but not too much. If you're concerned it has you can add a small bit of water.
At this point the sauce has probably simmered around 30 minutes. Ideally you want it to do 1 hour at least. When it's thoroughly mixed, check for seasoning and add more as needed. Don't forget the parmesan will add to its saltiness so don't add too much more salt.
About 15 minutes before it's ready, cook the pasta, then drain, leaving it to undercook by about 1 minute so that the final stage is done in the sauce.
Mix the pasta and sauce into the larger pot of the two.
When serving, grate a little bit of parmesan on each dish and add a basil leaf or two if you have some spare.
You don't need to crush the fennel seeds and pine nuts if it's a hassle but you may get unevenly dispersed flavour from both.
I prefer to make a fennel and tarragon battered chicken to add to to the sauce instead of standard chicken but didn't want to overcomplicate this for anyone who hasn't made it before.