Why anyone would do anything with red wine other than drink it was beyond my imagination (and certainly within my judgment). That is, until I made this red wine chicken and pasta dinner.
I had bought a bottle of red wine that (forgive me) I didn’t like, and I didn’t know what to do with it because it was so sweet that I felt embarrassed even thinking about offering it to a friend. But I had a box of penne to make for dinner and not enough pesto, so I thought, “If others can make a good, easy red wine pasta dinner, I should at least try.”
WOW – was I missing out.
Seeing that a simple red wine pasta dish was not overly difficult and truly delicious, I needed to know who first thought to do this.
Turns out there’s not much history documenting the dish.
Other than being a famous Tuscan dish, spaghetti all’ubriaco or “drunken noodles” could have come from the mind of any wise Italian in the kitchen. To whomever thought to replace boiling water with wine, thank you. It may sound a bit Marie Antoinette, but I’m now a fan.
“Drunken noodles” are made by cooking the pasta noodles in a pot of simmering wine and water rather than just water. The alcohol in the wine burns away as it heats, leaving the pasta with a sweet flavor and purple-brown color.
To note: I did not make traditional “drunken noodles”. Serious Eats has a great explanation and simple recipe for spaghetti all’ubriaco. What I was after was a less-technical recipe that didn’t involve boiling the pasta in wine.
With more penne, chicken, and a better bottle of pinot noir in hand, I set out to make this a second time for Zack, my BF, to celebrate him finishing a block of medical school.
I knew I wanted to create a simple recipe that gave the red wine sweetness to the chicken more so than the pasta. So, boiling the noodles in red wine was out.
I started by pan frying the chicken with olive oil and garlic before adding the wine. I added cornstarch to thicken the wine, and herbs to flavor it more. However, I was mindful not to let the recipe involve too many ingredients because I wanted to keep it simple. So simple, my brother could do it. (Kevin is a great cook, when he feels like putting in the time and effort, which I’m sure we can all relate to).
The result was a sweet and herby dinner that we both loved, and I realized how important it was to use a wine that you also love to drink.
What’s your favorite wine to use for spaghetti all’ubriaco? Or, do you know the story of where this came from? If you’d care to share, please let me know!
Need a romantic but easy recipe to make with red wine? This red wine chicken and pasta dinner will be ready to east in less than 30 minutes.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil and garlic on medium-high heat until the garlic begins to brown. Add the chicken and season with salt, pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Brown the chicken on each side (approximate 4-6 minutes on each side). Meanwhile, heat a pot to boil the pasta.
If you are adding the cornstarch to the sauce to thicken it, it’s best to mix the cornstarch with the wine in a liquid measuring cup. Then, carefully add the wine to the pan with the chicken. Season with the thyme and add the peas. Cool on medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
While the chicken simmers in the wine sauce, cook the pasta according to its provided directions. When done, drain the pasta and add it directly to the saucepan. Carefully mix the saucepan so that the pasta is covered in the sauce. Let simmer for 5 minutes and then serve.