Chicken Riggies Recipe

February 28, 2009


I concocted this Chicken Riggies Recipe after eating it at the Hotel Utica in Utica, NY. Chicken Riggies is a local creation– a very yummy creation– in Utica, NY. “Riggies” is the local slang for rigatoni pasta. Here in Central New York, there are a lot of Italians and, therefore, we have a lot of terrific Italian recipes. I am not Italian, but I grew up in an Italian home in an Italian area of NY. So, I cook a lot of Italian dishes. Here’s one of my recipes. I initially posted this on my New York Traveler blog, where it was Stumbled and was plastered all over the Internet.

As with a lot of Italian dishes, the ingredients are largely “a little this” and “a little that.” That’s how I cook. Chicken Riggies is a chicken and tomato cream sauce with sherry. If you like creamier sauces, add more cream; if you like a spicier dish, add more cherry peppers; etc. This is a great recipe to experiment with, because you can do so much with it. Here’s how I like it (which is: less creamy, more tomato-y, and less saucy).

Chicken Riggies on Plate

Chicken Riggies
Feeds an army or 3 to 4 Italians

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3 or 4 hot cherry peppers (from the jar), seeded and chopped (add less or more if you are a glutton for punishment)
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 cans (28 oz. or so) diced tomatoes
  • 4 leaves freshly chopped basil, or 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup sherry (optional; I always add it)
  • 4 to 5 chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces*
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup light cream (depending on taste)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (optional)
  • 2 1-lb. boxes of penne rigati or rigatoni

Chicken Riggies Ingredients

* I usually pre-boil the chicken breasts for about 15 minutes, just as they are turning tender. However, in the summer, I grill a few extra chicken breasts, cube them, and freeze them specifically for this recipe. I simply pull them out when it’s Chicken Riggies time. The grill flavor really comes out for this dish.

But today I pre-boiled the chicken. Dice them up. Toss them in a large wok (or other large pan) with the olive oil, diced onion, and chopped garlic. Cook gently until the onion turns tender. Don’t allow the chopped garlic to brown!

While that’s cooking, mince a few pickled cherry peppers. I’m not too fond of lava-intensity dinners, so I only add 2 cherry peppers. I usually de-seed them, but if I am feeling wild and crazy, I toss a few seeds in for kick. Again, this is one of the many ingredients you can customize- add more or less according to your taste. After you’ve minced them, toss them into your wok.

Chicken Riggies Peppers

Chicken Riggies Onions

Now add the tomato paste and cans of tomatoes. Throw in your spices. I’m nuts about basil, so I always add a tad more than the recipe asks. Whatever works for you.

Chicken Riggies Tomatoes

Allow this mixture to simmer for about 20 minutes. You’ll know when it’s just about done when the pets and the kids start wafting into the kitchen.

While the tomatoes are simmering, start boiling the rigatoni pasta. This takes usually about 10-15 minutes.

Chicken Riggies Rigatoni

Back to the tomatoes: After 20 minutes or so, add the sherry if you are using it, and cook for another 10 minutes. Stir frequently and do not allow the tomato sauce to burn– keep the heat a low/medium.

Chicken Riggies Sherry

Once the tomatoes are fully cooked, remove the wok from heat. Add the cream and the Parmesan cheese and stir.

Chicken Riggies Cream

Chicken Riggies Parmesan

I usually throw in a handful or two of mozzarella cheese and stir it in.

Chicken Riggies Mozzarella

Hopefully, by now your rigatoni pasta has fully boiled; drain and lightly rinse. The Chicken Riggies is done! Pour the Riggie sauce into a dish and garnish with more mozzarella cheese sprinkled on top.

Serve with freshly made bread or a nice green salad. It’s terrific with Red Truck red wine! Manja, manja!

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13 Responses to “Chicken Riggies Recipe”

  1. Sher Says:

    This recipe looks sooooo good!!! Thanks for sharing it! It will be a good new recipe to try for my wheat-allergies–using wheat-free noodles! :0)

    Have a great weekend!
    Sher :0)

  2. Bonnie Story Says:

    Hi! NICE job with the step-by-step and photos! Well done. I feel like an insider knowing what a “riggie” is! Now I’m hungry… thanks for the fun post.

  3. Mrs. Mecomber Says:

    It’s SO easy to make! And I like it because it is so customizable. I hope you ladies enjoy it! I know we did!

  4. Mizรฉ Says:

    Looks yummie ๐Ÿ™‚
    Iยดm a pasta lover, I could spend one month eating pasta every day ๐Ÿ™‚
    Never tried your recipe but I should.
    Good Tuesday ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. laurie Says:

    thx for the recipe found it when u published photos of hinkley lake, hinkley dam and trenton falls. I was telling my children how much fun i had growing up in the 70’s there and how i would like to take them,as my whole family has now moved to florida. married an italian from east utica and had never heard of chicken riggies. however i have made the dish several times and it is a big hit with my family. my husband takes some in to work for others to try when i make it.
    thx again laurie

  6. RyanGoldschlager Says:

    Here is a recipe based from a Utica native: Included consultation with the chef at Joey’s, listed in wikipedia as the birthplace!!!!

  7. KrisPalmieri Says:

    I am 100% Italian born and raised in East Utica and promised my dinner group here in PA that I would treat them to chicken riggies this weekend ๐Ÿ™‚ I already have 3 slightly different recipes on stained index cards but (of course) had to google the recipe again just in case there is a yummy tweak that I haven’t tried before. I use white wine in one of my recipes, but I think I will use sherry this time and see how it turns out!

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      I’m amazed at the people who visit my blog for the Riggies Recipe, and how many variations there are with it! Yum! I’ll have to try some of your ingredients! Thanks folks, and good eating! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. heather Says:

    Thanks for the detailed cooking guide. i will try it this week. i am sure mom’s in the bizymoms Utica community woul;d love to here about this recipe. pleae take the time to feature this on their community page

  9. WPexplorer Says:

    This looks delicious. I will probably give this a try. Thank you.

  10. Carole Says:

    I made this tonight and it was really delicious! The creamy sauce was a nice compliment to the kick of the cherry peppers. Great directions – came out perfect. You really need to put this on your site too! ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. Dennis Riggi Says:

    I was pleasantly suprised to find that “Chicken Riggi’s”-the Utica based pasta recipe-contains my surname, which
    is “Riggi”. I tried the recipe-and liked its simplicity and flavor. I am of Italian descent,and a former New York state
    resident. Furthermore, I am chef-instructor and teach both
    French, Italian, Sicilian and Mexican cuisine to recovering
    alcoholics, drug addicts-and the culturally disadvantaged.
    I have a passion for food and would like to send some
    great Italian recipes to New York Renavator.
    I am a Cordun Bleu Chef, and a graduate of the Italian
    Culinary Academy…..Bon Appetite!…you made my day

  12. Gray Says:

    I think if your gonna make riggies, and make them good, you gotta be from the utica area, its not that its a cooking thing, its a italian thing… and its a local dish so the best way in the local way, and thats the truth