Chicken and Bacon Ragu with Fennel and Ricotta Dumplings

I found this recipe on and have changed a few small things which I believe add a greater depth of flavour. The ricotta dumplings I have left alone (apart from adding a touch of grated nutmeg) as the recipe is so fantastic, so ridiculously simple and quite fun too.

I love to slow cook chicken thighs in ragouts until the meat shreds and begins to melt into the sauce. Use the thickest, smokiest bacon you can find for this recipe and sub madeira for wine if you don’t have any but I highly recommend grabbing a bottle if you don’t have some already, it’s such a great kitchen staple and I use it extensively for flavour and to de-glaze.

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Enjoy this if you do decide to make it, we really love this with pasta, potato, parsnip puree or dumplings as I have here. For a wintery indulgence, purely serve in a bowl as if soup and dip in with chunky bread – rosemary is a nice addition and even chorizo, which Ben likes to add to almost anything!

Ingredients Serves 4-6

  • 6 good quality, thick cut, smoked bacon rashers, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, diced and fronds reserved
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 50-100ml of madeira to deglaze
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 500ml chicken stock

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Fry your bacon over a low-med heat slowly until the fat has rendered and it starts to become crisp then add onion, garlic, fennel and carrot. Coat well with the bacon fat and continue to cook for a further 5-8 minutes until soft. Use a splash of madeira to deglaze your pan, let it evaporate before adding everything to a casserole or large saucepan with lid.

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Keep your frying pan on the heat, coat your chicken thighs in a light dusting of flour and cook in the pan until golden then transfer to the casserole with the bacon etc.

Pour in your stock, bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour partially covered. The chicken will be very tender so carefully remove the larger pieces and shred with 2 forks before returning the meat to the casserole.

Taste and add seasoning to your liking then serve over pasta, potato, dumplings or however you choose – garnish with your reserved fronds.

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Easy Ricotta Dumplings (Spatzle) Serves 4-6


  • 250 ml of ricotta
  • 4 large eggs
  • 50ml warm water
  • 256g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg


Whisk together the ricotta, eggs and water until smooth.

Fold in the flour (if you whisk it, it goes everywhere) then when combined, whisk in the seasoning and nutmeg. The batter will be thicker than pancake batter but nowhere near as stiff as dough.

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil then use two spoons to scoop up a small tsp sized glob of batter and ping pieces into the water quickly. Once you have covered the surface of your water and they have all floated to the top, let them cook for 2 minutes before removing with a slotted spoon and transferring to a colander.

Serve hot with our ragu or butter and cheese…..delicious! 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. I couldn’t find the “like” button fast enough. I’m a huge fan of cooking with chicken thighs as well. This recipe is awesome and the photos are incredible! Thanks for posting this!

  2. This looks insanely delicious… wow.

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