¼ cup olive oil
1 medium carrot, cut into ¼ inch dice
1 medium celery stalk, cut into ¼ inch dice
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 oz thickly sliced pancetta, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced
¼ cup tomato paste
½ lb thickly sliced lean ham, cut into ¼-inch dice
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 ½ lbs penne pasta
1 cup shredded Provolone or Italian cheese blend
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 Tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned (about 10 minutes).
Add the pancetta and chicken and cook until chicken is no longer pink (about 8 minutes). Add the tomato paste and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until shiny and rust coloured (about 8 minutes).
Stir in the ham, cream, white wine and water; simmer over medium-low heat for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thick. (Tip: Make sauce up to 3 days ahead and refrigerate until needed. Reheat before using.)
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta, stirring often, until al dente. Drain the pasta and put it back in the large pot.
Add the sauce and half the Provolone or Italian cheese blend to the pasta; stir until well mixed. Transfer the pasta to individual oven-proof dishes, or one 3-quart casserole dish.
Top pasta with the remaining cheese and the parsley; bake for 20 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with green salad.