For this smoky pulled chicken bucatini, chicken thighs are roasted with onions, tomatoes, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and balsamic vinegar then tossed with pasta. The combination may seem a bit unconventional, but folks are calling it a ‘delicious surprise’. Taste for yourself.
Bucatini is a long, thin pasta with a hole running straight through the middle, a bit like a straw; it works perfectly when tossed through sauces. Smoky semi-dried tomatoes can be found in some supermarkets and delis.–Phillippa Spence
Pulled Chicken Bucatini FAQs
Can I substitute chicken breasts for thighs?
Absolutely. A good general rule to remember is that two thighs are roughly equivalent to one breast, in terms of weight. In a recipe that relies on juicy, delicious chicken, such as this one, be sure to use bone-in breasts. They’ll bring more flavor and moisture to the dish than boneless.
What is the difference between sun-dried tomatoes and semi-dried tomatoes?
Sun-dried tomatoes are completely dried before being packaged and they have a long shelf life. They can be found dried in bags or packed in oil and stored in jars. Semi-dried tomatoes are tomatoes that have been dried only about halfway, retaining some of their natural moisture. Semi-dried tomatoes don’t last nearly as long as sun-dried, but their texture is softer and some find the flavor more appealing. You can find semi-dried tomatoes in jars and cans at your grocery store, online, or you can make your own pretty easily.
Smoky Pulled Chicken Bucatini
- 6 medium (1 3/4 lbs) skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium (8 oz) red onion peeled and cut into thin wedges
- 14 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 3 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) smoky semi-dried tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups canned chicken broth or homemade chicken stock
- 1 pound dried bucatini
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Place the chicken thighs skin side up in a roasting pan or large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle over the oil and sprinkle over the smoked paprika, oregano, and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
- Add the onion, cherry tomatoes, and semi-dried tomatoes to the pan, cover with foil and roast until the chicken is browned and the tomatoes are beginning to burst, about 1 hour.
- Remove the foil and stir in the sugar, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, tomato paste, and chicken stock. Place the pan back in the oven and cook until the chicken is tender and cooked through to an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C), about 30 minutes more.
- Towards the end of the chicken cooking time, cook the bucatini in a large pot of boiling, salted water, according to the package instructions.
- Remove the pan from the oven and use 2 forks to carefully shred the meat, discarding the bones and skin. Stir and mash everything together to make a chunky sauce.
- Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving a cupful of cooking water. Tip the pasta into the roasting pan, with a good splash of pasta water. Toss everything together and serve.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Sheet pan dinners are all the rage for a reason. Easy, minimal dishes, and flavor. This recipe is no exception. The combination of fresh tomato, with the chew of semi-dried tomatoes was so good.
I personally can’t imagine a tomato pasta sauce that doesn’t have garlic so I did add two sliced cloves with the first bake. I used a very large roasting pan and my sauce was a little watery. Perhaps it would have reduced more if I had used a sheet pan. At any rate, I added an additional tablespoon of tomato paste then allowed the sauce/pasta mixture to sit covered for about 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to marry. Additional pasta water was not needed for mine. Leftovers reheated were just as good if not better.
This smoky pulled chicken bucatini was quite enjoyable. The preparation was quick and easy but resulted in an interesting and tasty meal. I trimmed most of the skin off the chicken thighs in an effort to make a heathier dish.
I could not find semi-dry tomatoes in my grocery so I used traditional sun-dried tomatoes and gave them a rough chop before roasting. I used 100 g but would have liked more in the finished dish so you could get some in every bite. The combination of smoky paprika, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire added tangy, savory dimensions to the sauce.
I know that bucatini is a very popular pasta right now but I’m not sure it is the best choice here. It was difficult to eat and very hard to get a bite with all the good chunky ingredients. I will make this dish again but with a smaller bite-size pasta. We topped ours with some parsley and freshly grated parmesan. This is definitely a keeper!
I found this smoky pulled chicken bucatini to be a delicious surprise! Admittedly, when I first saw the recipe title, I thought BBQ sauce with spaghetti?!? Eww!! Then I read the ingredient list and knew I had to try it.
I questioned whether I could find semi-dried tomatoes called for and unfortunately my store did not have them. I was not deterred however and found a really simple recipe for them. It called for slow roasting grape tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, dried thyme, basil and oregano for two hours at 300°F. Warning, make lots as they are outstanding sweet little bombs with so many potential uses (pasta, pizza, bruschetta, etc.)!!
Also outstanding was the cooking method used here. Adding and slow roasting different ingredients at different cooking times was pure genius. It produced a smoky, complex combination of flavors and more than enough sauce for the shredded chicken thighs, which were so tender, and the bucatini.
Of note, I did add all of the reserved pasta water at the end. I found the bucatini to be a perfect pasta choice for the chunky sauce as it grasped the sauce well. All in all, there is nothing I would change about this recipe and look forward to happily making it again and again.
Originally published April 6, 2022